EMU construction nears final stages

After more than two years of planning and labor, construction in the Erb Memorial Union is nearing it’s final stages for the term.

The project is set to have a grand opening at the beginning of fall 2016.

Construction is set to conclude at the end of May, but EMU staff will use the summer to move on-campus organizations back in and develop policies and procedures.

Students will have use of the building throughout that time.

“It’s been a huge disruption to the student union, this project has been. We’re excited to just get everybody back home to the EMU,” said Dan Geiger, renovation manager for the project.

The last phase of construction mostly includes finishing touches, as well as upgrades to the ballroom,  the placement of final food vendors and the addition of a whole new wing along 13th street.

“The new student wing, the north wing, the hearth space and the dining space, those are all areas that are still under construction. They’re starting to take shape and if you do a tour now, you’ll see a lot of the finishes are going in and it’s starting to look more like a finished building,” Geiger said.

The construction process as a whole has been much smoother than expected, Miles Sisk, chair of the EMU board of directors said.

“You have a huge construction project, you expect things to go wrong. You hit bumps in the road. We have surprisingly hit very few bumps,” Sisk said. “We’ve been on time, most of the time we’ve been under budget and adding things into the project because we realized that we had more money than we thought we would be able to.”

The upstairs EMU ballroom was one of these unexpected additions.

“We didn’t know if funding would stretch far enough to do the ballroom, so we held that part of the project for last.  The ballroom will be refreshed with a new floor, accessible stage, greenroom access, wall treatments and some new audio visual equipment,” EMU Director Laurie Woodward said in an email.

Geiger said upgrades to the ballroom stage were the main reason why it was included in the construction.

“That [wheelchair accessibility] was our number one priority in there, to make sure the stage was wheelchair accessible,” Geiger said.

Sisk said he believes the project will have a huge impact on campus life.

“I think [the impact] is going to be tremendous. The EMU is supposed to be the center of student life. This is where things are supposed to happen. We’ve decentralized the student body. Having a new EMU, having that space brings everybody back to the center of campus back here,” Sisk said.

Woodward also said she is excited for students to see the changes taking place.

“The campus has been without much of its Student Union for the past two years, and I am excited to share the new building with students, faculty and staff this May,” Woodward said.

Students and staff who wish to see progress on the construction can sign up for a hardhat tour in the EMU administration office.

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Olivia Bowman

Olivia Bowman