Union rennovation architects present primary designs

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Andrew Peters, architect with Workshop Architects, Inc., points out various features of the firm's floorplan of the first floor during Workshop Architects, Inc.'s presentation of its renovation designs for the K-State Student Union on January 22, 2015 in the Student Union. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

When students voted to pay an extra $20 fee to update the K-State Student Union, little was known about the new design. Now, students can see designs and photos of the product their dollars benefit.

Representatives from Workshop Architects, Inc., the company in charge of the renovation, were on campus Thursday to speak to faculty and student leaders about their direction.

“In schematic design, it’s a lot about the big picture,” Andrew Peters, designer for Workshop Architects, Inc., said.

Peters, along with Bill Smriga, executive director for the Union, and Jan van den Kieboom, designer for Workshop Architects, Inc., presented the proposed design for the Union. While designs aren’t finalized (due to budgeting with Turner Construction), Workshop Architects was able to show off the basis of the new plan.

The biggest changes will be seen on the building’s ground and first floors; the first floor will be completely gutted to make way for new spaces. The new design will feature a circular layout to change up what Peters’ called the current “cut-through setup.”

“It doesn’t really allow people a place to kind of linger and socialize,” Peters said. “We’re re-creating the circulation of the building.”

The $25 million renovation will also remove several exterior walls to bring more natural light into the currently dark space. With an open concept, added seating areas and a fireplace, Workshop is striving to make the Union into a more “homey” environment.

“We’ve been the living room of the campus for almost 60 years and just really emphasizing that we are every students’ building, that every student has a place will be a really big benefit to our student body.” – Audrey Taggart-Kagdis

“You come into the new building and you see social space, you see relational space. It’s the family room of campus,” Peters said.

While redevelopment of the food service area caused a few hiccups for designers, van den Kieboom said he was confident that they had moved things around in a way to make Union more accessible, useful and comfortable for students. Tenative designs feature a sports bar with a balcony overlooking Old Stadium, a multitude of restaurants, a coffee shop and an ice cream shop that open out onto Bosco Student Plaza.

“We can allow this to spill out and bring an inside-outside energy from Bosco Plaza,” van den Kieboom said.

Though the plan will take several years, Smriga assured students and faculty that most parts of the Union would still be accessible throughout the construction.

Renovations will begin on the ground floor, and are anticipated to finish up in December 2015 or January 2016. Turner Construction will then move to gut the first floor of the Union.

“We aren’t doing anything to the art gallery, Little Theater or Forum Hall,” Smriga said. “Forum Hall will be accessible throughout the entire project through exterior entrances. Things may get displaced into the art gallery during construction, but Little Theater should be operational the whole time.”

With offices for the Office of Student Activities and Services, Greek Affairs, Veteran Affairs and many others getting moved around during the construction, some organizations may be hard to find during construction times. Nevertheless, Smriga said the Union will do it’s best to provide space for everyone.

Enlisting K-State’s architecture students helped Workshop Architects ensure that the renovations truly said, “Kansas.”

One important part of planning the new Union for Workshop Architects was taking students opinions into consideration. From easier-to-find elevators to bleacher-style seating looking down into the courtyard, designers tried to incorporate student ideas and preferences into the design as much as possible. Smirga said one big thing they heard from students was that they wanted local restaurants in the Union.

“We’ve talked to several restaurants around Manhattan and it seems like they’re on board, so hopefully we can make that happen,” Smriga said.

Enlisting K-State’s architecture students helped Workshop Architects ensure that the renovations truly said, “Kansas.”

“We’ve gotten several architecture students involved in kind of helping them, advising them,” Jeremy Migneco, junior in architecture, said. “For instance, in the last meeting we had, myself and a few others put together a presentation on how this will connect to Kansas and Manhattan.”

Overall, Workshop Architects wanted to make sure that the renovated Union represented what K-State is all about: family.

“Having that family feel and that comfort is so important,” Audrey Taggart-Kagdis, director of marking for the Union, said. “We’ve been the living room of the campus for almost 60 years and just really emphasizing that we are every students’ building, that every student has a place will be a really big benefit to our student body.”

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