MU upgrades improve services, add convenience
Every day an average 25,000 visitors walk into the Memorial Union (MU), Arizona State University’s student union on the Tempe campus. After more than 50 years of serving the university community in the same building, the facility is getting a make-over.
As the central hub of the Tempe campus, the MU provides services, dining and office and conference space for students, staff, faculty and visitors.
The Arizona Board of Regents approved $53 million to repair and renovate the MU after a fire in November 2007 extensively damaged the building. The lower and first levels reopened within 60 days of the fire. While the second and third floors remain closed for further repair, ASU decided this was the right time to simultaneously implement upgrades and additions to the building.
“We felt it was a perfect opportunity to give the MU an updated look and feel and enhance the building’s interior and exterior spaces to deepen student engagement and interaction,” says Kellie Lowe, director of the MU.
All renovations to the building will take place during the summer between May and August. Facility upgrades will greatly enhance the dining experience at the MU and improve overall access and student services. Specifically, plans call for the following:
• Creation of the Starlight Terrace and Eco-Fresh Café, which will be adjacent to each other on the second floor (formerly the Maricopa Café) and is the first sustainable dining establishment of its kind.
• Repair and upgrade the second floor ballrooms and meeting rooms, which experienced the most damage from the fire, by incorporating new décor and modern technology.
• Redesign of three existing stairwells and construction of two new stairwells to add new points of entry and exit, especially during an emergency.
• Development of the north patio, which is an elongated landscaped and shaded gathering area located between the MU and Hayden Library that will offer additional outdoor seating and student programming space.
In addition to these projects, ASU will bring the building to current fire code compliance, which includes installation of new fire prevention methods, fire detection, warning, barrier and suppression systems on the second and third floors.
“Throughout this renovation, every decision made is based on meeting the needs of our students. We believe the newly modeled MU will be an area on campus that our students can enjoy and be proud of,” adds Lowe. “We also did our best to build a construction schedule that would have minimal impact to our students, staff, faculty and visitors; therefore we’re focused on finishing as quickly as possible during the summer.”
During the construction phase, the university community can expect minimal noise, dust and temporary closures of walking paths, which is typical for a construction project. Pedestrian traffic will be rerouted based on construction schedules and directional signage will be prominent.
All dining and services will remain open with the exception of Cereality, which closes every summer as a normal operating procedure.
Some MU offices will be relocated during the construction, including the information desk, which has moved to the lower level near the billiards, along with the MU administration offices. For full updates on the renovation project, please visit www.asu.edu/mu.