“Seven years ago, our dream was to transform this remarkable place. If we were to honor the covenant of service to this Commonwealth forged more than 150 years ago, we needed to revitalize and renew our campus. This new facility – the Gatton Student Center – is a testament to that commitment and to our progress. It is remarkable in its modern amenities and its ability to unite past and present. But it is more than bricks and mortar, carpentry and glass, the Gatton Student Center represents the abundance of university life as demonstrated by its capacity to foster student and university creativity, and support the success and aspirations of the UK family. The Gatton Student Center is a gathering space that illustrates in a compelling way the importance of people and place. As both the heart and hearth of our campus, the new Gatton Student Center is a place where leaders will be developed, friendships forged, and partnerships brokered. Our students – and all those who call this special place home – will be shaped through the memories and relationships they experience while at the University of Kentucky.” – University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto
The new Gatton Student Center at the University of Kentucky is open and welcoming Wildcats.
The student center is named for businessman and philanthropist Carol Martin "Bill" Gatton, whose $20 million foundational gift made the major three-year renovation and expansion of the building possible.
John Herbst, executive director of the Gatton Student Center, says this is the “culmination of work by many, many students, faculty and staff engaged in the development of the re-imagined and completely transformed Student Center. This is a remarkable tribute to students past, present and future. It celebrates the unique community and culture building experiences that will take place in this grand venue. I believe it will stand out for many years as a pinnacle Student Center experience among the finest in North America."
The more than $200 million, 378,000-square-foot facility is a mix of tradition and modernization. It contains modern high-tech spaces for students and visitors while also showcasing Kentucky pride in its history.
The Gatton Student Center offers many of the same programs and services of the old building, but with extensive upgrades.
What's inside: a new, expanded Cats Den; beautiful, new larger ballroom space; a new on-air studio and production area for WRFL; technologically advanced meeting rooms; a high-tech ‘state of the art’ upgraded Worsham Cinema; a renovated UK Credit Union; a new two-story UK Bookstore operated by Barnes & Noble with a Starbucks and Apple Tech store; and a new space for Wildcard IDs.
Dining space includes retail dining as well as the 750-seat Champions Kitchen -- where students and employees can experience multiple dining concepts including a scratch bakery, a breakfast station, hand-tossed salad bar and a "worry-free zone" where food is prepared in a gluten-, peanut-, tree nut- and shellfish-free kitchen.
New spaces have also been added to the Gatton Student Center for the students' convenience and experience. New additions to the center include Auntie Anne's Pretzels, interactive maps and wayfinding, a UK Police Office of Community Affairs, a PNC bank space, a Student Government Association Senate Chamber for use by student organizations and university departments, new spaces for student organizations and the UK Visitor Center. Large outdoor plazas feature fireplaces and rooftop terraces for students or visitors to study, socialize or relax and enjoy the beauty of campus.
Historic Alumni Gym Fitness Center is also incorporated into the overall footprint of the Gatton Student Center. Architects completed an architectural phenomena where they kept the original 1924 exterior intact, which can be seen on the inside of the Student Center. The gym has a variety of amenities along with healthier refreshment options in the Wildcat Pantry. Alumni Gym is free to students, and employees have the option to purchase a membership.
Philip Latiff, associate director of business and operations at the student center, praised the collaboration between the past and future: "We've tied the historic legacy part of the space into the cutting edge new pieces, and I think they did it in a really seamless way."
The Gatton Student Center also features artwork as well as tributes to Kentucky within the architecture. The carpets in the ballroom are an interpretation of the Lexington city map. The social stair case not only features the embedded letters of the University fight song, but the detailed design was inspired by how water carves its way through Kentucky limestone in the creeks and riverbeds at Raven Run to reflect the river of knowledge flowing through the University.
The Gatton Student Center was created with the idea of building a bridge to the next generation and that’s exactly what Brandon King, a Gatton Student Center tour guide and College of Nursing student, thinks it does. "I enjoy having a student space dedicated for the students, and that's represented in its architecture and facilities as well."
The student center is open from 6 a.m. until midnight seven days a week during regular academic terms, with events held during these times such as films, or gatherings for students in the Cats Den.
Tours of the Gatton Student Center are available Monday through Friday. Learn more here: https://www.uky.edu/gattonstudentcenter/student-center-tours. And learn more about room rental rates for university departments and outside organizations here: https://www.uky.edu/gattonstudentcenter/room-rates.