The campus hosted a Grand Opening of the new $13.4 million, 15,000-square-foot expansion to the Student Union on Monday, Sept. 13. The Student Union Atrium opened for use during the week before classes began and features new dining venues, an enhanced bookstore, student lounge areas and an elevated seating area designed for student collaboration.
The first expansion to the Student Union since it was opened in 1971, the Atrium adds approximately 15,000 square feet of new space and 12,000 square feet of renovated space to provide students with new places to gather and hold meetings.
The addition was made possible through a special state appropriation secured by State Assembly Member Kevin Cahill (’77) and State Senator John Bonacic, who recognized the need to upgrade the Student Union building.Mike Patterson, director of Student Activities and Union Services, said that the Student Union averages 4,700 reserved events a year and there is a growing demand for impromptu common meeting space for students. “The Atrium significantly improves our current facility through enhanced student commons, complete with WiFi and the addition of group study rooms and student conference and meeting rooms,” said Patterson. “We also now have an entertainment commons and game area with billiards and flat-screen televisions.”
Steven Deutsch, director of Campus Auxiliary Services, said that the four eateries in the Atrium includes Mojo Vista, with Southwestern and Mexican cuisine; The Sub Stop, which offers hot and cold sandwiches, subs and panini; Tokyo Sushi; and Seattle’s Best, which operates a full-service café.
John McEnrue, director of Facilities Design & Construction, said that the design, developed by IKON.5 Architects, is a glass edifice that symbolizes the Shawangunk Mountains to the west of New Paltz. It does so by replicating the topography of the mountain range. In addition, McEnrue said that it is the most environmentally friendly project the New Paltz campus has ever witnessed, complete with low/zero impact mechanical and electrical support systems, as well as sustainable finishes throughout.
Already, the Atrium has received a 2009 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Metropolitan Arts Press. For this honor, architects selected 64 projects as the best new United States buildings and designs. The awards honor and recognizes outstanding new achievements and innovation for new architecture designed and built in the United States by national and international architectural firms practicing in the states.
“The award celebrates the new structure’s unique design, its symbolic relationship to the Shawangunk Mountains and, most importantly, its purpose,” said McEnrue.