The first two floors of the Memorial Union’s north and east sections are about as empty as they have ever been as construction crews continue to gut the interior as part of a construction project to modernize and make the building more open and airy.
Campus staff donned hard hats and toured the site earlier this month to get a glimpse of the work in progress.
Work began in March and so far, construction has gone ahead without a hitch — except for one unexpected discovery that came along with the removal of the fireplace in Griffin Lounge.
Workers discovered the chimney wasn’t constructed as they had believed, and its weight was not distributed evenly among the MU’s five floors. This means the entire chimney must be removed, instead of just clearing it from the first two floors as was originally planned.
“The fireplace chimney was not built as it was drawn,” said Greg Secor, senior project manager with Design and Construction Management. “We will now need to remove the entire chimney so that we don’t leave an unsafe future condition in the building.”
In addition to pushing out the northern end of the MU and expanding it into a two-story, atriumlike space, the construction project includes seismic improvements, more space for the bookstore and a new lounge area in the basement that includes a room for console video games.
The bowling alley will lose four lanes, which will turn into more space for the relocated billiards tables. The renovated MU also will include veterans services — bringing it into the building that is, in fact, a memorial to Aggie soldiers lost in war.
The bookstore is due to be completed first, reopening in early 2016. Until then, the bookstore will remain in its temporary locations: general merchandise in the east wing of the MU and textbooks on the second floor of The Pavilion at the Activities and Recreation Center.
The Coffee House side of the Memorial Union is unaffected by the renovation, and the Memorial Union tower and second-floor meeting rooms above the Coffee House remain open. The tower can be accessed from the stairwells at the east and west ends of the building.
Other construction is scheduled to continue until late 2016.
Cody Kitaura/Dateline, Dateline, 530-752-1932, firstname.lastname@example.org