On June 3, a major step forward in the remodeling of the Holmes Student Center was heralded by a mighty…THUD!
That was the sound of a 6,000 pound block of concrete tumbling to the ground, creating the start of an opening on the south side of the student center that will soon create a direct entrance into the building’s lower level from the Martin Luther King Commons.
While the breaching of the wall is perhaps the most public evidence of progress on the project, crews have been hard at work for months doing demolition and reconfiguring the space.
The glass wall that will replace the bricks and concrete removed will not only allow natural light to flood the lower level, it also will be the first time that passersby will be able to see into the student center, creating a stronger connection between the building and the steady flow of foot traffic that passes the building each day.
Another milestone was reached last week with the installation of a dramatic curved staircase, which creates a central link between what used to be the Blackhawk Café and the Huskie Den. The glass wall previously separating the two areas has been removed creating a large, two level dining and entertainment area with the Huskie Grill above and the Huskie Den (including a new stage) below. It is expected to be a centerpiece of the renovation.
Work also is progressing on major upgrades to dining in the student center. When completed, the building will feature:
- A large Starbucks store offering the chain’s full menu of not only coffees and teas, but also sandwiches, salads, baked goods and more.
- The Huskie Grill, featuring an extensive menu ranging from appetizers like chili fries and jalapeno poppers, to entrees like chicken strips and burgers, salads and wraps. The dessert menu includes deep fried Twinkies drizzled with chocolate. Beer and wine also will be available.
- A nationally prominent Tex-Mex restaurant (vendor to be announced pending finalization of contracts) will offer made-to-order burritos, tacos, salads, nachos and more.
- A convenience store will provide a wide selection of grab-and-go foods and a sub sandwich shop.
All of those eateries will accept cash, credit/debit cards, Huskie Bucks and Flex Dollars attached to student meal plans.
“We truly expect the Holmes Student Center to become destination dining for students, faculty and staff and hope that it will help foster an even greater sense of community on campus,” said Executive Director of Campus Dining Services Dan Koenen.
The student center in general is expected to become a hot destination for many reasons. For starters, the bookstore will return to that level. Run by Follett, it will provide a completely revamped shopping experience. Nearby, the Student Association and Campus Activities Board will have office space featuring collaborative work areas meant to increase flexibility and collaboration. The Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development will also be relocated to space near those groups.
Finally, there also will be comfortable lounges where students can meet, relax or study. A new transit lounge for those waiting for the Huskie Bus will also be part of the remodeling.
Work on the project will continue throughout the summer with a grand opening anticipated in late fall.