Oakland Center expansion celebrate with ribbon cutting ceremony

The new Oakland Center (OC) is officially open.

Members of the Oakland University community cut the ribbon to open the expansion of the OC on Friday, Oct. 26. Held in the new Habitat amphitheater, the ceremony featured Vice President of Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Glenn McIntosh, Board of Trustees member and Executive Vice President of PNC Bank Richard L. DeVore, Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, OC director Chris Reed and Student Congress President Ryan Fox.

“When I look at [the OC] I see amazing things, but…there’s just one major reason for us to be,” Pescovitz said. “And that is our students, because student success is our number one goal. And as you’ve heard, this building is absolutely about our students.”

Pescovitz lauded the students’ input for the updates. She mentioned that students stressed the need for more seating, dining options and electrical outlets.

“I hope you know that we listened to all the things that our students told us,” Pescovitz said. “And when you walk around this facility, we didn’t just do the bare minimum in giving them all those things they told us that we needed. We did all those things and we did them in a state-of-the-art fashion.”

Fox spoke highly of the updates. He called the OC the heart of the campus, and he recalled upon the struggles that were present with the old, smaller OC.

“For years, students have needed a larger space to organize student life, to rest and relax, and to call home,” Fox said. “The university listened, and the university delivered. In the old OC, people would struggle to find sitting space, wait in absurdly long lines and student orgs would compete to utilize limited space here. As a freshman and sophomore I experienced these problems firsthand…But those days are thankfully in the past.”

The 60,000 sq. ft. expansion and 50,000 sq. ft. renovations cost around $46 million – $47 million according to Reed.

Locations that are a part of the expansion are the Habitat Amphitheater, The Winter Garden, Lactation Room, Reflection Room, Footwash Room and the Founders Ballroom.  

The Habitat Amphitheatre, which features a stage and large screen, hosted a concert and a viewing of the Oct. 24 gubernatorial debate. Reed stated that the space will be used to show OU away games, esports and political events.

The Winter Garden is located in the corner of the OC by Plum Market and allows students to sit around a fireplace and “enjoy the outdoor experience without being outdoors” according to Reed.

Founders Ballroom is the 10,000 sq. ft. ballroom above the Winter Garden and is able to be divided into four rooms.

Located near The Habitat and the Gender and Sexuality Center, the Reflection Room is a space for students to pray or reflect. Reed said that the room is open, cannot be reserved and people wishing to use the room cannot ask people to leave the room. The footwash room is next to the Reflection Room to help Muslim students pray, though anyone can wash their feet in the room.  

The Lactation Room is a room that has space for one person and can be used by anyone who wants privacy.

Other additions to the OC Reed reported are increased security technology, LED lights that are “more dynamic” than fluorescent lights and new study spaces between Plum Market and the old Au Bon Pain bakery.