Lots of big changes at the University of Louisville this semester! We’re thrilled to have been part of one of them: the major renovation of the Student Activities Center (SAC). From the Louisville Courier Journal:
University of Louisville alumnus Kelly Hodges remembers the day the Student Activities Center opened in 1990 and changed the commuter-centric campus forever. The opening helped spur a transformation that changed the Belknap campus near Third Street from one that primarily served commuters to one that’s now home to thousands of students, he said, The campus’ evolution over the last 30 years “has sparked a lot of pride,” said Hodges, the chairman of U of L’s alumni association board.
This summer, the university is making yet another leap forward by finishing three major projects on campus: The $80 million construction of the Belknap Academic Building, which will house crucial new classrooms and laboratories; the $40 million renovation of the Student Activities Center (commonly called the SAC) designed by Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects; and the $63 million expansion of Cardinal Stadium, which is almost complete.
A different student experience
By creating a culture of student involvement, the University of Louisville is building a campus that bears few similarities to the way it was 30 years ago. The renovation and expansion of the Student Activities Center was all about students. With a higher demand for spaces to hold meetings and events, Sherman Carter Barnhart provided a design solution within the 151,233 SF Renovation & 32,775 SF Expansion of SAC to have flexible meeting rooms, provide a recognizable entrance, create student “hangout” space, and an inviting, vibrant, day-lit interior. The major project challenges were economically planning the new conference spaces within the existing space available and addressing the drab, dark, outdated feeling the poured concrete interior gave the building.
Through collaboration with the university administration, staff and students, Sherman Carter Barnhart designed a conference center that met UofL’s goals and responded to the project challenges.
The design provides pre-function and hangout space along a major student walkway. Large expanses of glass visually connect the building activities with the students outside. The pre-function space wraps the meeting rooms and opens to the existing building creating an open flow with the dining facilities, maximizing the synergy between the dining and conference areas. To achieve this relationship, the bookstore will be relocated to the east side and the dining venues will be relocated to the west side. Administrative efficiency will be improved and student space will be expanded by renovating offices and meeting rooms on the center’s third floor.
The $40 million project, which lasted two years, was paid for through private sources, facility funds and a $9.6 million agency bond funded by a student activities fee, said, John Karman UofL spokesman.