Oakland Center groundbreaking marks progress
April 7, 2017
Filed under Campus
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The Oakland Center’s long-awaited makeover is officially underway.
At noon on April 6 in the Gold Rooms of the OC, students, staff and faculty gathered for the opening ceremony. The crowd then moved to Fireside Lounge to witness the ceremonial groundbreaking.
Glenn McIntosh, vice president for Student Affairs, said the ceremony was held in Fireside Lounge because it is considered by many to be the heart of the OC.
After the renovation, Fireside Lounge will no longer exist, but McIntosh said the fireplace will be moved to another location in the OC because of its sentimental value.
According to McIntosh, the project will cost $44 million and should be completed in fall 2018. His hope is that it will be done by September.
The renovation will include, but is not limited to, a restructuring of the basement that will create a visible connection between the lower and ground levels instead of the stairwells currently being used. The ground floor will receive another entrance, more social space for students and more kitchen space for the cooks in Pioneer Food Court. The upper level will also receive a visible connection to the ground floor, as well as two multipurpose rooms to match the Banquet Rooms.
This project started in 2012 when then-President of Oakland University Student Congress Samantha Wolf brought the idea to then-Director of the OC Richard Fekel and the Board of Trustees. In 2013, Wolf and Fekel brought the idea to the 2013-14 OUSC members.
“I was sitting in the basement of the Oakland Center in the office of the Oakland University Student Congress when a student came in,” Wolf said. “The student said, ‘This building is too small, I would like you to change that. I believe OUSC can do this.'”
From then on, Wolf dedicated her time to getting the OC the expansion she felt it needed. After graduating with a degree in communication in 2014, she went as far as to donate her first professional paycheck to the effort.
Some of Wolf’s original ideas included a movie theater to replace the Oakland Room and a 12-lane bowling alley for the basement.
Though neither of those ideas are in the current plan, OU is moving forward to create more space for students to gather. Wolf was tired of seeing students sitting on the floor, and the expansion will combat this problem.
Wolf traveled from California to attend the ceremony and was honored by McIntosh and OU President George Hynd by taking place in the groundbreaking. After the ceremony, lots of food and free commemorative photos were available.
“We have grown to 20,000 students, but the Oakland Center was built for only about 12,000,” Hynd told The Oakland Post after the ceremony. “We’re starting to catch up with our growth.”