The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees has approved a proposal to spend up to $25 million to expand dining and student support space in the Gatton Student Center on the Lexington campus.
Even though the university completed a renovation and expansion of the facility just a year ago, it says it is moving forward with further expansion because of high participation levels in meal plans that are used at the Student Center’s multiple dining venues, and because it plans to continue to increase undergraduate enrollment.
“We put students and their success at the center of everything that we do,” says university Board Chair Robert Vance. “The clear need to expand dining capacity at the newly renovated Student Center underscores our commitment to students and our commitment to serving the entire campus community.”
The renovated and expanded Gatton Student Center was opened in 2018 with nearly 380,000 square feet. It has student organization spaces, student support and lounge spaces, retail options, a recreation facility, administrative offices and residential and retail dining spaces.
UK Dining — a partnership between the university and Aramark — provides multiple dining venues throughout the facility.
A feasibility study conducted by Omni Architects looked at expanding the existing Champions Kitchen dining area east toward the parking lot and the Singletary Center for the Arts.
The study also concluded that it would be most cost effective to construct a second and third floor above the expanded space that can be fitted out as needed to provide student support and other services.
“The Student Center has become the living room of our campus even more quickly than we anticipated,” says Eric N. Monday, the university's executive vice president for finance and administration. “It’s the heartbeat of our campus and has become the central gathering and dining space for much of the community."