Construction of the new student center and dining hall will be completed on June 15, 2022. Western Michigan University students will officially be able to use the building in August 2022.
The student center is part of WMU’s plan to redesign the southern part of the main campus by 2024. The building was originally scheduled to open in fall 2021, but construction was delayed in May 2020 due to COVID-19.
Chris Pyzik, Project Manager for Facilities Management, said the student center structure is fully completed and they are currently enclosing the exterior with roofing and glass. He added that they were also installing internal works in the building.
“The goal of the project is to make a student center feel like home for students,” Pyzik said.
Pyzik said the new facility will operate similarly to the Bernhard Center and will have three floors. The new student center is 162,450 square feet and the Bernhard Center is 239,464 square feet.
The first floor will be dedicated to catering, a retail space, a games room and an overflow space. The second floor will serve as RSO space, a welcome center and presentation rooms. The third floor will house the new dining hall and an office suite, which will include food services, the student engagement office, and other services.
The new catering center will replace Hoekje/Bigelow and the Burnhams restaurants. Pyzik said the new dining center will be similar in size to the Valley Dining Center in terms of seating and locations.
The new student center will be located on the former site of McCracken Hall, which was demolished in the summer of 2019. Davis said the new building will put students in perspective, as they expect an environment that reflects their educational experience.
“When students and families visit campus, the surrounding facilities and grounds are what they look at to consider whether or not to enroll,” Davis said. “So keeping the physical campus environment attractive, useful, directly responsive to student needs, attractive and in good condition.
The Bernhard Center will be demolished after the students move into the new building. Pyzik said there are no current plans for what will replace the space.
“This is a big improvement over the Bernhard Center,” said university spokeswoman Paula Davis. “The Bernhard Center was kind of redeveloped for this purpose, but we never had a student center.”