Despite earlier assurances that East Carolina University’s new student center would open on Nov. 1, ECU officials are now saying the center will open in January.
ECU’s Associate Vice Chancellor Erik Kneubuehl said the building will be completed by the end of October, but the center will not be open until Jan. 7.
“We pushed it to January because then it’s just a matter of dates. So it will take us two to three weeks to get ready, so now you’re at Thanksgiving. Then after Thanksgiving, that’s only a week and then you have finals,” Kneubuehl said. “So the day everybody starts school on January 7, that Monday we are going to open the doors for the first time to all the students.”
According to Kneubuehl, the opening will be pushed back until January because of the the 10th Street bypass project.
“The 10th Street project has not delayed our construction project, but has made sure that there are certain things that have to happen in the building that doesn’t allow us to move in early,” Kneubuehl said.
In June, Kneubuehl told The East Carolinian the student center would open on Nov. 1. The website for ECU’s Student Centers still has Fall 2018 listed as the opening for the new student center.
According to Kneubuehl, in the months before the student center opens, there will be a lot of logistical planning taking place to make sure the building will run as smoothly as possible.
“Inevitably, in a building this size there will be things that don’t quite work right that we can still get the contractor to come back and fix them,” Kneubuehl said. “So we can do that for about a month to two months before the doors open. So when the doors do open, it will be a wow factor.”
During the years of making the new student center, Kneubuehl said there were a lot of moving parts that need to be straightened out before the project could continue.
The 220,000 square foot student center will be the new home for Dowdy Student Stores and four other retail stores.
The student center will include view dynamic glass, which has computer lines linked to each individual pane of glass to provide the proper amount of shading, according to Kneubuehl.
The main staircase in the building will include the ECU creed and on the second floor, there will be a wall with the word “Argh” and the new pattern that Adidas created for athletics, according to Kneubuehl. The building will also have 15-18 foot letters saying “ECU” that light up facing 10th Street.
“When you’re driving down 10th Street, you will see those letters lit up and there will be no mistaking you are at ECU,” Kneubuehl said.
There will be three ballrooms and the floor of the main ballroom will have the “outline of the coast of North Carolina with spots on it for all the lighthouses and an X marking where Greenville is,” Kneubuehl said.
The student center will also have Pirate Vision, which is a jumbo screen “about half the size” of the one in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, according to Kneubuehl.
“We’ll be able to show live TV, football games, basketball games, awards ceremonies. If you have an event out there, instead of putting a banner up we can just put your logo up on the big screen,” Kneubuehl said.
For Kneubuehl, the new student center is a “cutting edge building” which will give former and current ECU students and faculty something to be proud of and marvel at.
The dining options in the new student center include Raising Cane’s, a fast-food chain that specializes in chicken, a French style restaurant called Au Bon Pain, a creamery and a gourmet burger bar named 1907 after the year ECU was founded. The new building will also have a full-sized Starbucks and Panda Express, relocating from Mendenhall’s Destination 360 dining area.
Bill McCartney, associate vice chancellor for campus living, was in charge of the dining options for the new student center and said he wanted to provide a variety of options for students which can be more accessible.
“We decided that having one Chick-fil-A on campus was enough for us. With Chick-fil-A’s corporate policy of being closed on Sundays, we felt that in the new student center we did not want one of our food service options to not be open on the weekend,” McCartney said.
As for Mendenhall’s future, according to McCartney, the food court is being renovated to become “a new bakery on campus, as well as a new catering kitchen for us to provide catering all about campus.”
According to McCartney, the new student center will provide a well-needed upgrade from Mendenhall and will surprise students when they see it.
“I think students are going to be wowed by the new student center,” McCartney said. “Mendenhall has been so outdated for so long that when students see the spaces and the things they’re going to be able to do, they’re going to really appreciate this addition to campus.”