As the finishing touches are being put on the Memorial Union renovation, plans are forming for the future of its northern courtyard and Freeborn Hall.
The MU’s nearly two-year renovation will be complete in the spring, and the building will officially reopen April 3.
“The building will have one cohesive feel, consistent with its original intent,” said Greg Secor, senior project manager with Design and Construction Management.
The north side of the building — given a “slant” in the 1990s — has been straightened and opened up into a two-story, airy atrium, and the building overall has much more open lounge space, a feature that has been popular in recent renovations at the Student Community Center and lounge of the Activities and Recreation Center.
The building’s original purpose will be highlighted, with an entire wall dedicated to Gold Star Aggies — those who died in military service. The Golden Memory Book, which contains their names, will be displayed in a case, with its pages accessible on a digital display.
The basement also got a makeover, losing the cabinet arcade games in favor of networked console video games, a new lounge area and numerous televisions. Four bowling lanes were removed in a shuffle to give the bookstore more space, and 12 lanes remain.
Details are forthcoming for a grand opening event.
Here’s what’s planned nearby:
Freeborn to stay, become meeting and conference venue
- Freeborn Hall, closed since 2014 and in need of a seismic retrofit, will be renovated and used as a conference and event venue, without the bleacher seating of old.
- The main room will be able to seat 500 people for a dinner — the largest of any indoor space in Yolo County — and more than 1,000 for a speaker. Smaller conference rooms and a prep kitchen will be added.
- In all, the project will include the seismic fixes, accessibility improvements, renovations and a slight increase in space.
- The basement will be remodeled, and will still be used by students.
North Courtyard will be intersection
- Later this year, the courtyard just north of the Memorial Union will be freshened up to add more space for seating and socialization.
- Its focus will be a transitional area for the Memorial Union, Campus Store, Freeborn Hall and the MU bus terminal.
- This work is made necessary by the fact that water occasionally leaks through the courtyard into the Memorial Union’s basement games area, which is directly below. The repairs will necessitate removal of the giant UC Davis seal in the concrete. The seal was a gift from a previous class of students, and campus staff members have been in with those alumni to discuss another way to recognize their gift.
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