Workers using heavy equipment began tearing down large sections of the exterior of the UL Lafayette Student Union in December 2012. The demolition work came in advance of a construction and renovation project to upgrade the existing union.
The union, at 128,000 square feet, will be expanded by about 30,000 square feet upon completion of the project, said Steve Oubre of Architects Southwest. “The building, from a concept standpoint, is to serve as a nucleus, the heart of the campus. It’s being designed to engage students on a daily basis,” he added.
The $36 million renovation and expansion project, which is part of the university’s Master Plan, is funded by self-assessed student fees. In Spring 2003, students approved a $55 per semester fee dedicated to the Union. They OK’d an additional $20 per semester fee for the Union in 2005. To date, the university has collected about $19 million in student fees, plus another $23 million in bonds.
Anthony Daniel, director of the Student Union, said its bookstore, main ballroom and a small movie theater will be renovated. “Everything else is being torn down and rebuilt,” he said. The Lemoine Company is the general contractor.
Part of the bookstore has been relocated to a building on St. Mary Boulevard; the rest has been moved to the University bookstore’s Red Zone outlet, located at the intersection of Johnston and East Lewis streets. Canebrake Cafeteria has been temporarily moved to nearby Guillory Hall. Other offices, such as Student Services, Food Services, Housing and Student Programming, have been temporarily relocated to Vermilion and Lafayette halls.
The new building will be positioned farther away from Cypress Lake than the existing structure. The intervening space will be filled with a large courtyard or plaza that fronts the lake.
Once complete, the UL Lafayette Student Union will be closer to McKinley Street. Meeting rooms on the second floor of the new building will feature balconies that face McKinley Street.
“The hope is to make it the living room for the university, to have a building that’s going to be functional for meetings and a place all students can call home,” Daniel said.