University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Oct. 29, 2004

Construction for New UW-RF Student Union Set for Spring
By Molly Exner
UW-RF News Bureau

The Wisconsin State Building Commission approved a budget proposal on Oct. 20 to increase spending for a new UW-River Falls Student Union, which begins construction in spring 2005.

UW-RF Interim Chancellor Virgil Nylander, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Mary Halada, and students Nick Cluppert and Mara Bryan asked the State Building Commission for a $4.5 million increase to the approved $28 million needed to construct the new hub for student life.

"The project actually came in about $5.6 million over our budget, but the architects working with the campus did some value engineering [substitution of products] to bring down the cost," said Halada.

The UW-RF representatives also requested that the State Division of Facilities waive the 4 percent management fee on the $4.5 million. The building commission agreed to reduce the fee to 2 percent instead.

According to Halada, the request to decrease management charges will save UW-RF students nearly $88,0000. In 2000, students voted to fund the new building. Segregated student user fees fund the entire Student Union budget, with no expenditures of state taxpayers dollars.

Designed to be a "green building," the new Student Union will consume 40 percent less energy than any other student center of similar type in the Upper Midwest. Environmental features to conserve energy will be based on the criteria set for a Silver LEED rating from the United States Green Council. Some of the elements include the use of natural daylight, use of recycled building materials, recycling of construction waste and use of stored rainwater for toilet fixtures.

The new four-story building will feature all campus food service operations, a student life involvement center, entertainment complex, bookstore, bank, coffee shop, convenience store, banquet hall, theater-style large meeting room and conference rooms.

Portable computer users will have access to both wired Internet ports as well as wireless access throughout the building. All conference and meeting spaces will feature data projection capabilities.

Food service venues will feature demonstration cooking. The convenience store will have a quick-meal option for "grab-n-go" customers at noon, plus a grill/short order prep area to serve the entertainment complex and provide a late-evening meal option for students.

The building will be composed of a concrete structural frame, heavy timber, steel roof framing, masonry and a curtain wall exterior. Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows on the south facade will offer great views of the south campus, including the South Fork of the Kinnickinnic River, while providing daylight for many occupied areas. The building will mimic the river's natural ecosystem with a curved "organic" design on the south side, while the north side will emulate the traditional modernist style of existing academic buildings.

The Ames Teacher Education Building, site for the new Student Union, is currently being razed, with some of its components to be recycled into the new union.


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