Union expansion renderingRendering courtesy of Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture. More renderings

Sacramento State will break ground early next year on a 71,000-square-foot expansion/renovation of the University Union, which serves as the campus “living room” for 30,000 students.

A three-story addition to the north side of the 183,000-square-foot building will include a storefront for Peak Adventures (currently located at The WELL), a premium coffee venue, meeting and conference spaces for student groups and other organizations, additional restrooms, a study lounge, food-service storage, expanded casual seating, and an outdoor seating/pavilion area.

The addition will be built to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold standards. The existing building will be updated with new HVAC, and fire alarm and lighting-control systems.

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2017 and to be completed by August 2018.

“The Union suffers from an overall lack of space, primarily for open seating and places for people to just ‘hang out,’ ” says Bill Olmsted, associate executive director of Union WELL Inc. “If you walk through the Union at any given time, you will see people sitting on the floor in hallways and alcoves. You will see them trying to eat lunch or type a paper while sitting in a stairwell. For several years, those have been the blatant signs of our space limitations. The expansion will allow more students to spend time comfortably in the building.”

The $53 million project will be paid for with student fees approved in a campus-wide alternative-consultation process, reserves from Union WELL Inc., and generated revenue. No state funds can or will be used.

The University Union project will add to a flurry of ongoing campus construction activity:

Work continues on Student Housing II, a 416-bed residence hall that will be completed in time for the Fall 2017 semester. And Sac State will break ground next spring on Science II, a state-of-the-art education building with cutting-edge teaching labs.

Science II and Student Housing II are the first new-construction projects in the Campus Master Plan 2015. As work begins on the University Union expansion, campus officials also plan to break ground on an 1,800-space parking structure for the north end of campus.

In addition, the University has plans to expand The WELL. The campus health and fitness center has 22,000 active members and is used daily by more than 4,000 students, faculty, and staff.

And the University Library is closed this summer for asbestos abatement in anticipation of an eventual renovation. The library will reopen in August.

When the University Union opened in 1976, gasoline was 57 cents a gallon, a postage stamp was 10 cents, and the year’s top song was “Silly Love Songs” by Paul McCartney and Wings. Expansions to the Union were completed in 1990, 1992, 1998, and 2005 as the student population continued to grow. The building currently houses study areas, food services, meeting spaces, and program offices.

The architect for the University Union project is Dreyfuss + Blackford (D+B) Architecture, which remodeled and renovated some of the Union’s dining spaces in 2012. McCarthy Building Companies is the design-build contractor.

“Historically, the Union has been the social hub of the University,” said Kristopher Barkley, D+B design director and the project’s designer. “The expansion will make a strong architectural statement through the incorporation of forms and materials that relate to the mature vegetation on campus.”

Sac State, which boasts 3,500 trees, has been designated a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation each year since 2012. – Dixie Reid

In the media:

"Sac State's University Union to get $53 million renovation and expansion," The Sacramento Bee

"Sac State student union expansion a $53 million project," Sacramento Business Journal

"Sac State plans $53 million University Union expansion," Capital Public Radio

"Sac State to begin multimillion-dollar expansion of student union," KFBK Newsradio

"Sac State plans $53 million expansion of University Union," ABC 10