In 2010 students voted to build The Student Experience Center, a 3 story building to be constructed next to the MU. In addition to a new building, the space vacated by the moving of the bookstore, will be renovated as a multi-purpose space for events and activities. These two buildings will be connected with a glass canopy that will keep students dry for outdoor activities. It will be a sustainable building (aiming to be LEED Gold certified) that will house many student services (Barometer, Greek Life, ASOSU, KBVR).
A History in the Making
Many years ago, two Oregon State students and ex-service men, Warren Daigh and Tony Schille, came together in a profound amalgamation of ingenuity and post war sentiment. They championed the idea of a building in which all could gather as a living memorial of those who sacrificed their lives in “the war to end all wars.” Today, due to the efforts of Daigh, Schille, other students, faculty, staff, and alumni, the Memorial Union (MU) stands as the oldest student union on the west coast.
Accomplishments like this shower the history of our university, providing us with a clear formula for success in future endeavors. With the exception of the addition of an east and west wing, the MU has remained virtually unchanged for nearly a century; until now. After years of studies, surveys and countless discussions surrounding the project, the Memorial Union East Wing Renovation is underway along with the construction of an entirely new building named by students as the Student Experience Center.
In 2010, Memorial Union President Jorge Michel and ASOSU President Chris Van Drimmelen brought to referendum a proposal for the renovation of the MU East Wing, and the construction of a community focused building to be termed the Student Experience Center. The intended use of this facility was explained as a four-story sustainable building with a focus on the advocacy of student services and learning opportunities for members of Oregon State University. In addition to these projects, plans were drawn for the renovation of the former bookstore site after its relocation to the parking structure across from Gill Coliseum in 2014. This not only provides additional space for student events and activities in the MU, but situates the bookstore on the perimeter of campus where it can serve community members as well as students. Promoted by conceptual drawings by the architects of Opsis and perfected through extensive collaborations between designers, students, and staff, the project was approved by a staggering 70% majority vote. However, to truly fathom the importance of this proposal and its impact on our campus, one has to appreciate the highly significant chronicle of events that have shaped current project strategy and approach.
12 years ago, the Daily Barometer released a front page story featuring the campus desire to demolish Snell Hall. Subsequent analysis revealed the possibility of significant damage in the occurrence of a severe external event, such as an earthquake or wind storm. Rehabilitation of Snell was later negated by reports from the McBride Architectures of Portland indicating that the renovation of Snell would demand expenditures of the same amount or more as construction of a new facility
Though designed in 1958 as a dormitory, parts of Snell have been occupied since a spike in enrollment in 1973 as the relocated home of former Memorial Union tenants; such as the Craft Center, and student media and government offices. With a lack of space in the MU, and recent university policy entailing the eventual migration of Snell residents; the choice was made between spreading these programs around campus or creating an entirely new centrally located facility to house many different student fee funded organizations. Understanding that the concept of splitting up tenants into different buildings on campus was not only inefficient but would inevitably create a major disconnect between organizations, project leaders saw a new building as a last resort.