Upchurch University Center is set to open in late October and is considered the third-largest building on campus after Curry and Frazer. It is a 79,000 square foot building and named after Elsie Upchurch, according to Associate Vice President of Campus Planning and Construction Louise Waller.
Replacing the Cunninghams in 2014, Upchurch will take the space that once housed over 400 students.
“The Cunninghams were very tired, there were many maintenance issues (and) no air conditioning. They were not the best place in the world to live so we looked into renovating those facilities and the cost was (extremely high). They also were not meeting the demands and needs of the student body. So, then the decision was made that this would be the location for the new student union, Upchurch (University Center),” said Waller.
“Site work of construction started of summer 2015, and the building (construction) began starting in spring '17,” said Jerry Jerome, facilities planner at Longwood.
According to Waller, Lankford Hall, home of the current student union, was built in 1967. The student body was much smaller and Lankford was not designed for the student body today.
“And as an institution, we have a responsibility to provide the students the resources for collaboration for all the wonderful clubs and organizations,” said Waller. “It’s an important piece of our offerings."
Per Waller, Upchurch is near completion and the contractor and construction crew worked fast to make this building happen.
“They are still working on the food court area and the landscaping exterior now," Waller said. "But everything should be completed in the next four weeks.”
There is a need to incorporate a tree plan for Upchurch University Center in the future, according to Waller.
“There are some additional sidewalks that need to be done, but the exterior landscaping is minimalist. This gives us the opportunity to enhance our trees. This will all just add to the beautiful palette (of Upchurch University Center),” said Waller.
“We have hardwood floors that were saved from Cunningham (Hall), we salvage those and put them in the multipurpose rooms, (it) was cool to save something from that site," said Deputy Director for Capital Design and Construction Kim Bass. "We also had reclaimed lumber from trees from that site that is being utilized as some wall covering in a couple of spaces in the first floor."
Within Upchurch University Center's food services will be Panda Express, Au Bon Pain, FarmGrill and Starbucks, according to Bass.
“The ground floor is the food court area, and it will (also) have pool tables, stages and a recreation space. And the upper floors will have offices, ballrooms and meeting spaces for student organizations,” said Waller.
“There is a cabaret, and it was planned to have three pool tables but the staff is preferring that there be a mixed of pool tables, foosball tables and ping-pong,” said Bass.
According to Waller, Starbucks will be on the first floor, while the other dining options will be facing Lancaster Hall.
“It surpassed all of my expectations,” said Waller. “It will be the heart of the campus, it is geographically the heart and you can’t help but be drawn to that building. I sincerely hope that the students will love, appreciate it and value it."