Goodbye old HUC, hello new Student Center

By on January 22, 2013
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UAB’s $48.5 million project to rebuild the Hill University Center (HUC) will commence this summer when the HUC will be torn down to make way for a new student center.

The HUC offices are going to be temporarily moved during the two-year wait for a new student center projected to finish date in August of 2015. Daniel Twieg/Photo Editor

The HUC offices are going to be temporarily moved during the two-year wait for a new student center projected to finish date in August of 2015. Daniel Twieg/Photo Editor

The Board of Trustees approved the concept for the new student center last September, allowing the university to initiate architect selection for the project. The new student center is expected to be completed by August 2015.

“We plan on pulling together our student-facing services and activities into a new, attractive student center that will best serve students here and attract students in the future,” said Harlan Sands, Vice Provost for Administration & Quality Improvement.

The HUC, opened in 1983, was not primarily designed as a student center.

The new 150,000+ square foot student center will have extended hours, a larger dining facility, a coffee shop and convenience store, meeting and event spaces, lounge areas to see and be seen, and outdoor spaces that will complement and support the activities and services provided by student organizations.

“We listened to students, and the first thing they requested is a place they can call home – a place where they can feel part of a residential campus with late-night dining, studying, and gathering,” said Sands.

Birmingham-based architecture firm Sherlock Smith & Adams and their national partner, Stantec, a professional architectural firm that has built more than 40 student centers across the country, are the design team for the new student center.

“We have set aside funds for the last few years through a variety of sources, including tuition, to service student needs and construct a student-focused building,” said Sands.

The new student center is expected to preserve its name as the Hill Student Center, but Sands commented, “We are not ruling out the possibility of searching for a donor who may want to join the Hill Student Center in co-naming this brand new facility.”

The new configuration of the building is in the master plan to support on-going growth and change to the UAB campus. In the master plan, the university plans on expanding green space to build a “green spine” up to Railroad Park.

In the interim plan, some HUC dining facilities, such as Chick-fil-A, will relocate to a mobile food site. Additional mobile food sites, including Asian and/or Mexican cuisine options, will also open.

“It’s up to the students whether or not mobile sites will continue once we open our new student center. If students really like these options and support them, we will certainly consider keeping them,” said Sands.

In addition, a wing and quesadilla restaurant called WOW Café & Wingery will open up behind Snoozy’s College Bookstore, and UAB is looking into placing an additional branded venue in Lister Hill Library.

“We have a transition plan in the works. Our goal in the transition is to put the functions that students needed in the HUC in close proximity, such as around residence halls and classroom buildings. I think students will be very happy with the interim accommodations,” said Sands.

UAB is also planning a new 680-bed residence hall – another project that will help meet current and future student needs.
“We have more students who want to come to UAB than our facilities can handle. With increasing enrollment and current demand, we are planning these projects with concern for student needs,” said Sands.

After the final transition plan is approved, administrators plan to create a website where students and employees will be updated with key pieces of information regarding the new student center and residence hall site.

Kaylyn Alexander
Staff Writer
kaylyn@uab.edu

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