The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is exploring upgrades for the new Student Union and a green space project to bring life to a site where several administrative offices once sat.
Since the new Student Union’s opening in January 2015, faculty and student leaders have searched for ways to make the facility more accessible to students and student-run organizations.
Student Government Association President Kirsten Allen said during a recent meeting that plans include modifying The Brew — the union’s coffee shop that serves Starbucks beverages — and the space outside the union where Guillory Hall, the old bowling-alley-turned-cafeteria, once stood.
Both the Student Union and green space renovations are part of the university’s master plan, which guides the school’s vision for growth into 2030. Talks about revamping the coffee shop and retooling the outside space began in the early spring semester, about one year after the union reopened to the public.
For the union, the goal is to add more casual seating arrangements to the café and create a more relaxed environment.
“(Designs started) with the beginning of spring as we were communicating with SGA and students, who were wanting a more open, homey space where they can hang out,” said Dawn Miller, director of union operations.
Miller said the designs also call for more seating and acoustic improvements to absorb espresso machine noises and allow the opportunity for small musical performances.
“We’re pretty much getting close to the final drawing board, getting pricing, getting everything done,” she said. The price of café renovations has yet to be determined.
Already new to the Student Union is the installation of flat-screen televisions that can be used to watch university-related events.
As changes are developed, Miller said Student Union staff and SGA members will reach out for student feedback after designs are finalized.
“This is their space,” Miller said. “We want them to know everything we’re doing. It does us no good to try to implement something without them.”
At the same time, SGA and the president’s office are looking to find new uses for the vacant area on the intersection of Boucher Street and Hebrard Boulevard.
Buildings on the street-facing side of Cypress Lake — Guillory, Lafayette and Vermilion halls — once housed administrative offices. The university relocated those offices to the Student Union and tore down the structures in 2015.
Plans for that space include an amphitheater and a seating area covered by a trellis, projects that Haley Campbell, a sophomore majoring in secondary education, said will draw more students and organizations to host performances and events.
“Organizations could actually have their events outside,” Campbell said. “To have an amphitheater where people can actually go down and sit, you could actually put on the productions that the campus holds so dearly to their hearts.”
Other suggested ideas that aren’t on the drawing board included a walkway over the lake and a fountain.
“That’s something that we’ll have to take some time to reconsider, but that’s not in the immediate plans to do,” said Bill Crist, UL-Lafayette director of facilities management.
Crist said plans for the green space will likely come from the master plan funding.
Funding is also going toward improved overall campus lighting, as well as intramural field lighting.
In the next three to four months, plans will be finalized with Architects Southwest and sent out for contractors’ bids.
Crist said he expects to see the green space project completed around August or September in 2017.
“My goal would be to have something done by the start of the fall semester,” he said.