Construction on the new Student Center and dining facility will be completed June 15, 2022. Western Michigan University students will officially be able to use the building in August of 2022.
The student center is part of WMU’s plan to re-imagine the southern portion of main campus by 2024. The building was originally planned 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’s structure is fully complete and they are currently enclosing the exterior with roofing and glass. He added they are now also installing internal work into the building.
“The whole goal of the project is to make a student center feel like home for students,” Pyzik said.
Pyzik said the new facility will function the same way as the Bernhard Center, and will be three stories high. 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 food, retail space, a game room and an infinity space. The second floor will serve as a space for RSO’s, a welcome center and presentation rooms. The third floor will hold the new dining hall and an office suite, which will include Dining Services, the Office of Student Engagement and other services.
The new dining center will be replacing Hoekje/Bigelow and the dining at the Burnhams. Pyzik said the new dining center will be of similar size to the Valley Dining Center in terms of seating and venues.
The new student center will be located at the former site of McCracken Hall, which was demolished over summer 2019. Davis said the new building will bring in perspective students, as they expect an environment that reflects their educational experience.
“When students and families are touring campus, the facilities and surrounding grounds are what they’re looking at to consider whether to enroll or not,” Davis said. “So, keeping the campus's physical environment attractive, useful, directly meeting the needs of students, appealing and in good repair.”
The Bernhard Center will be demolished after students move to the new building. Pyzik said there are no current plans for what will replace the space.
“This is a vast improvement on the Bernhard Center,” said Paula Davis, university spokesperson. “The Bernhard Center was kind of retrofitted for this purpose, but we never had a student center.”