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University Center expansion, 1604 Campus

Expanded University Center to open June 2008

By Shelley Kilpatrick
Student Writer, College of Liberal and Fine Arts

(Aug. 16, 2007)--Looking around the UTSA 1604 Campus, we see there is construction going on almost everywhere. As the first in a series on building construction and renovation, this story will focus on the University Center expansion and renovation at the 1604 Campus. The center will include a full-service Starbucks, an expanded Subway sandwich shop, a renovated dining hall, a ballroom that will hold 650 and more offices for student organizations.

The latest UC project began in spring 2003 when students voted to increase student fees to finance expansion of the building. Once the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents approved the $33 million project, an advisory committee, architects and other specialists began developing plans. Even though the project will be funded through the University Center fee, students will not be charged until the building opens. Completion is set for June 2008.

"Because the students voted to pay for the new UC building, it will be theirs," said John Kaulfus, associate dean of students. "They have had input on everything from the layout to the furniture and rooms. We really want to increase student life and nightlife because within the next year there will be over 4,000 students living on campus."

The expansion project will add 59,078 square feet to the current facility. The main feature is the new 650-seat ballroom that can be divided into two spaces. It will be used for events such as the Howdy Rowdy Bash, the Official Ring Ceremony and the Honors Convocation.

With more than 140 student organizations, the building will have seven meeting rooms with two that can hold 150 people. Also, the student activities offices and student organizations including the Student Government Association, Honors Alliance, VOICES, Ambassadors and Greek Life will have storefront offices to be more accessible for students seeking information.

The new commuter lounge will have couches, big-screen TVs, study areas, lockers and a changing room. Also included will be a stage where local and campus bands can perform. The current game room will move to the new building and will have big-screen TVs and pool tables.

Replacing the old game room, The Roost, will be a full-service Starbucks with food and seating. Subway will get a makeover will more checkout lines to provide faster service for students with a limited amount of time for meals. Additionally, the UC dining hall on the first floor will be renovated to have more of a sports-club feel by adding big-screen TVs and colorful paint on the walls.

The Ski Lodge will be remodeled with new lighting, couches and tables. Safety upgrades will include new fire systems and sprinklers, and restrooms in the older part of the UC will be upgraded to current standards.

The idea for a University Center began in November 1979 when students voted to establish a student union organization, which would offer co-curricular activity space for the university's students. Phase I opened in July 1986 with a main lounge, several meeting rooms, a multi-purpose room banquet hall, a student activity complex, a recreation room and food services.

When the Phase II expansion opened in 1996, it included a 16,000-square-foot bookstore, 7,485 square foot student activities complex, the Retama Auditorium (a 350-seat, tiered-style theater), meeting rooms, and the offices of Student Life, Career Services, Alumni Programs, Orientation Programs and a copy center. Phase II included renovation of Phase I including expansion of The Roost, and addition of the counseling center, Tomas Rivera Center for Student Success and the special events office.

Read more about the history of the UTSA University Center.

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