The construction plan for UW-Milwaukee’s revamped Union building is back on track after being delayed for almost a year. The WI Department of Administration approved the hiring of an architect by the Union Policy Board (UPB) on Feb. 14.
The WI Dept. of Administration hired a local Milwaukee firm, Engberg Anderson, to begin the pre-design on the Union project. Engberg Anderson is paired with the national firm Cannon Design, that seemed fit to handle the project because it has done work on many student union projects according to Union Director Richard Thomas.
The UPB recently approved the structure for the Campus Steering Committee, a committee that will work with the architects to guide the pre-design process and ensure that student and campus needs are prioritized for any plans for the project. The committee will consist of four student representatives. Applications are available to students now and the committee hopes to choose representatives by the end of the month.
The procedure of getting the new Union approved was a very “long and drawn out procedure,” according to Thomas. It took longer than anticipated to get the project approved by the WI Dept. of Administration.
“The architects will begin to do an analysis of the current facility and then they will begin to meet with various stake holders, including departments with offices [in the union], student groups, and then the Campus Steering Committee,” said Thomas.
Students will be invited to participate in focus groups so their input is also included.
Although the campus would like to get going on the new union project, this process is only step one and construction will not likely start for another two years.
The referendum for the student fee to fund the union project was passed in March 2012 by a 78 to 22 percent margin, but the additional fee will be pushed back to coincide with the project moving forward.
“It’s great to get going,” said Thomas. “There was a lot of enthusiasm on campus at the time of the referendum. Last year I think students wondered what happened, so I think it’s good to be back in a planning process [so we can] give students what they want in their student union.”