Anchored by one of the largest single gifts in the University’s history, UK has begun construction on a $201 million expansion and renovation of the Student Center. Student Centers — often referred to as the "living room" of a campus— are more than just buildings. Student Centers provide spaces for students to collaborate, study, dine, recreate, and most importantly — build community. This new space will connect us to the history and fabric of our campus and community. The facility’s layout is designed to extend outside environments, inside, and represent the natural landscape of Kentucky. The Student Center will serve as a welcoming respite for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Features of the building will include:
- Dedicated Student Org Space. Students indicated that they want more space for their student organization offices — including the Center for Community Outreach, the Student Activities Board and Student Government. The new Student Center will provide a dedicated area for these offices, with more space than the previous facility.
- Visitor Center. A beautiful new Visitor Center will be located off of the skywalk leading from Parking Structure 5, allowing prospective students and families to enter this area immediately when they arrive on our campus. We believe prospective students will look around as they enter the building and say “wow…this is where I need to be.”
- Martin Luther King Center. The Martin Luther King Center will be located at the heart of the building. It will house cultural heritage information, program and educational support functions, as well as social and cultural development areas.
- Blue Box Theater. A 250 variable seat "Blue Box Theater" will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, making it flexible for all kinds of performances from recitals, to concerts, to experimental theater and performance art, to dinner theaters.
- Senate Chambers. An 80+ seat, high-tech Senate chamber, equipped with video technology, roll-call voting and individual microphones will create an ideal space for Student Government functions and University Senate meetings, among other events.
- Social Staircase. Located in the center of the building and inspired by the limestone creek and riverbeds, a huge social staircase will serve as an ideal space to see and be seen in the Student Center. This staircase will allow students to socialize, relax and converse in this area. The contours will resemble the bed of a "river of knowledge" flowing through the building.
- Residential and Retail Dining. An approximately 600 seat residential dining area will provide a large fresh food area. Retail dining options like Subway, Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, Greens to Go, Starbucks and other favorites will also be included.
- Outdoor Social Spaces. On all sides of the new and reimagined Student Center, there will be outdoor social spaces for dining, informal programs and socializing. The outdoor spaces will interact seamlessly with space inside the Student Center in a very transparent way, so the outside becomes an active part of the Student Center.
We have established a 15-year, $245 million dining partnership with Aramark to create UK Dining. This partnership has allowed us to improve the quality and nutritional value of our food options and lower the prices of basic meal plans for our students, while also making $70 million in facility improvements across the campus. We announced the Food Connection at UK – an academic partnership with Aramark and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment to strengthen the local food economy. Locally sourced food in our dining halls, as a result, reached an all-time high. In the fall of 2015, we opened “The 90,” a modern $35 million, 82,000 square-foot dining facility that also provides spaces for academic programs supporting residential communities on south campus.