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UAHuntsville Breaks Ground on Student Life Center

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UAHuntsville "Charger Union" groundbreaking. L to R: New student Michael Gilmore, Dean of Students Regina Hyatt, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Student Government Association President Caroline Butler, President Bob Altenkirch and UAH Alumni Association President Michelle Reavis.

UAHuntsville "Charger Union" groundbreaking.
L to R: New student Michael Gilmore, Dean of Students Regina Hyatt, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Student Government Association President Caroline Butler, President Bob Altenkirch and UAH Alumni Association President Michelle Reavis.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A former student, a current student and a future student at The University of Alabama in Huntsville broke ground today on Charger Union, the new student life center scheduled to be constructed in the center of the university’s campus.

The new social gathering spot, which will contain 90,000 square feet, is expected to cost $25 million, and will provide space for retail, food vendors, dining and student activities. The building will be located on the south side of Holmes Avenue at its intersection with the planned campus greenway. 

Aerial artist's rendering north from Holmes Avenue

A “bridge” component should provide safe pedestrian traffic across Holmes Avenue. The bridge will also enhance student interaction with the building during their daily commute. Streetscape improvements included with the building will be designed to create safer pedestrian traffic across Holmes.

"Universities compete to attract the best students," said Dr. Robert Altenkirch who was installed as UA-Huntsville sixth president Tuesday.

"That's particularly important in the role we play in the Huntsville community's workforce development efforts and for our support of Redstone Arsenal and the Cummings Research Park," Altenkirch added.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy battle whole-heartedly agreed.

"This Charger Union makes this a better campus, a better place for students and more attractive to student throughout," Battle said.

The building’s plaza and wide, ground-level passages will create natural gathering spaces, which will serve to increase student activity on campus.

The architectural character will present an iconic visual reference using established materials across campus including architectural concrete, “Charger Blend” brick, glass curtain walls and metal panels. Expanses of glass will showcase student gatherings such as the dining area, lounge area, and gaming space, highlighting the vibrancy of student life.

UA-Huntsville dean of students Regina Hyatt said college unions have a long history in American higher education as places to meet, have meals together, hold formal and informal study groups and to host lectures.

"Years later," said Hyatt, "the college union continues to not only continues to serve these purposes it has also become a place where students gether to plan and host events, where student receive essential services and a place to simply relax and have fun."

Architectural concrete panels will effectively enclose the theater component, while using the building’s exterior as a canvas for night-time movie projections. The metal panel will dynamically flow through building forms, wrapping horizontal and vertical surfaces, signifying areas of entrance and special prominence. The use of colored LED exterior light projections on building surfaces will further embrace “Charger spirit” or can be used for significant celebrations or social/community awareness programs.

Construction is under way after the facility received approval by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees earlier this year.

Occupancy is expected to take place by the end of 2013.

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