Student Center Expansion and Renovation
IMEG was hand-selected to serve as the engineer of record, supporting all mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire protection, and technology system designs for the J. Wayne Reitz Union Student Center expansion and renovation at the University of Florida. The central hub of the campus, this facility houses an array of administrative facilities for student clubs and organizations, lounges, meeting rooms, and support spaces, as well as rehearsal studios, dining & retail, a career center, and more.
Work required demolishing the existing colonnade building (an outdated connection between the University’s main Welcome Center and School of Theater & Dance) and constructing a new multi-story link. Additionally, the renovation portion of the project focused on restoring exterior surfaces, , including replacement of exterior windows and doors with low energy glass and insulated frames, restoration of exterior surfaces and structural components, replacement and updating of all major infrastructure systems, and updating of interior finishes and lighting to seamlessly integrate the new space with the surrounding buildings. To create additional meeting space, a floor was built in the middle of the existing two-story Rion ballroom and the space below was repurposed. The roof and structure were removed above the 4th floor to create a new two-story ballroom and event space. Existing utilities were reconfigured to serve the new spaces.
To align with the university’s commitment to a carbon-neutral campus by 2025, the plan includes a rigorous recycling program, high-efficiency fluorescent lighting, low-flow fixtures, high-efficiency equipment, rapidly renewable sourced supplies and a green housekeeping program. High efficiency equipment was installed throughout the building, including a chilled beam system coupled with variable volume air handling units and displacement ventilations systems. Additionally, a solar photovoltaic system was installed on the top level of an existing attached parking garage to help meet the University’s Net Zero energy goal. The facility achieved LEED Gold certification.
A multi-phased, fast-tracked approach was chosen by the team to allow the existing campus buildings to remain open during construction. Regular meetings with the building management were held to discuss daily work activities and review student union events to ensure minimal disruption. Contractors also utilized a large swing space to enable facility occupants to remain in the building. After completing the project’s vertical expansion, crews focused on finishing out the spaces beneath so that by July 2015, the occupants of the entire third floor and the first-floor administration suite could move into their temporary spaces. Then, crews demolished their spaces and added in new MEP systems and flooring and configured new layouts. The building is located in a high-traffic area on campus, so particular emphasis on safe working conditions and coordinated logistics was key to ensuring successful construction.