5 firms present plans for sprucing up KSU union

By Bryan Richardson

Five architectural firms finally began to strut their stuff for representatives handling the K-State Student Union project Tuesday morning.

The finalists are Cannon Design of St. Louis, Howard and Helmer of Wichita, Stantec of Philadelphia, Workshop of Milwaukee with Bowman, Bowman and Novick of Manhattan, and WTW Architects of Pittsburgh.

The firm ultimately chosen will develop an architectural building program, conceptual design, and phasing and sequencing recommendations for the renovation and expansion of the Union.

The K-State Student Union Renovation Committee narrowed down 19 candidates to the five finalists and invited them to give presentations Tuesday for committee members and the K-State community.

The project, approved by 74.9 percent of students in the spring, includes new southwest and east entrances, a central elevator serving all floors on the southwest side, and addresses structural issues such as the roof, windows and asbestos.

Expansion would occur on the union’s east side to increase space for students – including study areas, meeting spaces, student organization offices and recreational areas.

Cannon Design representatives made the first presentation and used an interactive display – building a scale-model of the union to demonstrate what could be done.

The exercise included people putting a picture of a window at the place they thought represented the best view in the union.

Howard and Helmer reps played up their projects within the state and their K-State roots. All 10 company stakeholders are K-State alumni, and some recounted tales of playing foosball in the union and cleaning it as a part of the night shift.

“We’re Kansans,” firm partner David White said. “We are K-State. We bleed purple. We’re here today. We’ll be here tomorrow.”

The final decision on choosing an architect will be made by three committee members: union director Bill Smriga, student body president Eli Schooley and director of campus planning Abe Fattaey.

Schooley said the renovated union should have enough space for student organizations as well as being aesthetically pleasing.

To pay for the project, students agreed to a $20 increase in the student privilege fee beginning in the fall semester of 2014. The fee will remain in effect for 30 years.

Once the firm is hired, Smriga said the initial community input phase would last through April, and be followed by the development of design and construction plans.

Construction is scheduled for summer 2015.

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