ATU Board approves design, financing for $49.3 million student center

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,847 views 

Rendering of the planned $49.3 million student union and recreation center at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

The Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees on Thursday (Aug. 18) approved the design, financing and other steps necessary to move ahead with construction of a $49.3 million student union and recreation center on the Russellville campus.

Construction on the 94,802-square foot facility is set to begin in August 2023 with a planned grand opening between June and August 2025.

“Arkansas Tech University has boldly envisioned a new recreation center and student union building and a unifying plaza at the crossroads of campus,” Laury Fiorello, ATU vice president for administration and finance, said in a press release. “This site is a central location slated to be a hub of student life and a landmark building for the university. Here lies the opportunity to create a memorable place on campus for student wellness, belonging, collaboration, gathering and enjoying the outdoors.”

The new facility will be constructed on the parcel of land currently occupied by the W.O. Young Building, which will be demolished beginning in September. The new center will include space for a campus living room/lounge, individual and group fitness activities, two basketball courts, outdoor recreation, a café, events at multiple scales, student organizations, food service, a convenience store/spirit shop, a multi-activity court and multi-purpose meeting rooms.

Miller Boskus Lack of Fayetteville was selected as the lead architecture firm, and SmithGroup has assisted in planning the facility.

ATU Trustees voted to transfer $15.6 million in unrestricted reserves to support the project. The balance of the cost is scheduled to be accounted for through the sale of revenue bonds, which will go before the ATU Board of Trustees for its consideration in October.

Fiorello wrote in a memo to Trustees that “safe and accessible walking experience for students from all directions around and through the site, a positive first impression of the campus from the east gateway between Brown Hall and Rothwell Hall and an iconic place that accommodates a variety of student life events.”