North Carolina A&T State University has opened a $90 million, 150,000-square-foot student center on its Greensboro campus.
The Greensboro News & Record reports that the building has five restaurants on the first floor; on the second floor is a smaller version of the campus cafeteria and a ballroom that seats 350 for banquets and 600 for speakers and ceremonies.
“Today marks the restoration of the heart of campus,” says Dreshaun Jarmon, an A&T senior and president of the Student University Activities Board. “I know the body usually cannot go four years without a heart, but today the wait is over.”
The center is the culmination of a three-year long construction project, which included the demolition of the former Memorial Student Union. The new building is the university’s largest campus structure and has been designed to qualify for LEED Silver designation from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The old student union opened in 1967 when the university had about a third of the students it has now. The school can’t use state money or tuition dollars to build a student center, so A&T had its students cover the cost. Since fall 2016, full-time students have paid $450 a year in fees to pay for the building’s construction.
Students checking out the new space this week filed into a three-story atrium, past a lounge with a fireplace, past a touch-screen video board, past a gaming room with three large — and three more best described as enormous — high-definition screens for playing video games. Some headed over to check out a second gaming room with pool tables. Others veered off toward a new student bookstore, not yet open, that will have a coffee bar.
Offices for student groups and staff members are on the third floor. There are small study spaces and larger meeting rooms throughout, as well as dozens of desks and tables, some with electrical outlets and charging ports.
Carl Baker, the executive director of the student center, says it “a place to congregate — a place to see and be seen.”