New student center plans unveiled


While it hasn’t been built yet at full size, N.C. Central University students, faculty and alumni were able to view a model and design plans for the new student center in the Alfonso Elder Student Union this afternoon.

The two-story student center, which is planned to take up over 100 thousand square feet in the parking lot behind the current student union, is designed to include a multipurpose space that can be converted into multiple event rooms, a lounge/pre-function area, specific offices and workspaces for student organizations and administration and an 1,750-seat auditorium that accommodates the entire freshman class of 2021.

This unveiling was only the first public reveal: members of Student Engagement and Leadership (SEAL) organizations were able to view a less-polished model during their retreat last summer in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Their thoughts, along with surveyed responses from students and estimated needs, helped the design team of Duda|Paine Architects, O’Brien/Atkins Associates and MHTN Architects develop building schemes intended to best fulfill current and future students’ needs and wishes. All three firms have experience in designing buildings for higher education, including N.C. State’s Talley Student UnionWinston-Salem State University’s Thompson Student Services Center and Weber State University’s Residential Life campus respectively.

Features within the new center plan to integrate and update current campus components to fit larger student populations as class size increases. The current Eagle’s Nest dining space in the bottom floor of the union will double in size in the new center to host four vendors, a senate chamber for Student Government Association business will be included on the second floor and the Women’s Center, presently located next to Baynes Residence Hall, will be absorbed into the center alongside other campus resources.

However, if you’re a current student, don’t hold your breath on seeing this finished as an undergrad: construction is not set to even begin until spring 2019.

The center is projected to open to the public during the fall 2021 semester, just in time to welcome the class of 2025 to NCCU.

O’Brien/Atkins Associates president and chief operating officer Kevin G. Montgomery commended students for contributing to the center’s $36.1 million project budget through an increase in student fees.

“What you’re doing with your student fees is giving back, paying ahead, making a difference,” Montgomery said. “Some of you will experience it if this is your freshman year. But for those of you who aren’t, I hope that your pride (at NCCU) will draw you back here.”

SEAL executive director Orok Orok said that the Alfonso Elder Student Union, while set to move into an administrative capacity, has the potential to become another campus retail location.

“There are some things the administration is looking at in regards to connecting this space to (the new center), but that’s further on down the line,” Orok explained.

As for parking, a solution to where students will park during construction is being developed.

“The hope is that we utilize more of the spaces that are currently underutilized,” Orok said. “There’s a major assessment that’s still in the works right now.”

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