Student union prepares for facelift

By Laura baier

Student lounges, fireplaces and daylight are just a few things MSUM students can look forward to with an upcoming renovation to the CMU. The $9 million plan is expected to break ground this summer.

Most of the union will be affected by the renovation. All offices and organizations that inhabit the CMU will be affected in one way or another. Many groups are moving to different locations, and some are expected to be consolidated.

In the spring of 2012, CMU staff and students met with architects from Cuningham Group and Workshop Architects of Minneapolis for pre-design discussion. Priorities were found to be daylight, a coffee house, a welcoming entry, social space, fireplaces, and shared student involvement space.

Last spring, old and some new staff and students met with the architects again to confirm that these were still their priorities and that they wanted to move forward with the design.

“It is important to take a moment between your pre-design and your design to reevaluate if those priorities are still the same, with the hope that they are,” CMU director Layne Anderson said. “When we’ve had difficult decisions to make, we’ve looked at the priorities and filtered the decisions through that, asking ourselves ‘how will this meet our priorities?’”

With daylight as first priority, stage one of the renovation involves the addition of lounges, a welcoming area, and large windows. 

“This campus is going to start buzzing,” architect Heidi Neumuellar said.

The west side of the CMU near the library will particularly see a facelift.

“The work that will be done is going to be transformational,” architect Kathy Wallace said. “So many walls are going to be opened up that when you enter this building from the west, you will not recognize it.” 

An outside courtyard will feature seating areas. Inside, mid and lower-level lounges will be overlooked by a welcome desk. There will be a lounge above this addition that will also receive daylight.

“You’re not going to be confronted with a dark corridor, but instead you’re going to have an experience and see this campus really open up,” architect Ash Lettow said.

Architects are also working at improving social spaces in the CMU.

“I think having lounges available to everyone on campus is important,” homecoming coordinator Nikki Nouwen said. “Fireplaces and the coffee house feel will make the CMU an enjoyable place to hang out.”

With multiple lounges on every level, there will be plenty of spaces for students to hang out, study, and eat lunch with friends. Many will also feature fireplaces.

“There are going to be so many places that make it possible to people watch, check out for your friends, and just see what’s going on,” Wallace said.

Each lounge will have substantial seating areas, tables, and outlets. Some walls will be covered in dry erase paint to better enable organization meetings and announcements.

The CMU will still have private spaces for meetings and confidential conversations. Conference rooms will continue to be available to reserve as well as areas for individual groups.

With the idea of shared student involvement spaces, many groups will be consolidated into new spaces.

A proposed shared programming office would hold officers and coordinators of the Dragon Entertainment Group, AfterDark, and Homecoming. Close by will be the Student Senate offices and what’s been dubbed the Mosaic Center.

The CMU’s west end will be fenced off May 4, 2015 in preparation for the renovations to be completed in 2016.

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