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The renovation and expansion of the Reitz Student Union, built in 1967, expanded facilities, services, and programs supporting the University of Florida’s diverse campus community, increased energy efficiency, reduced operational costs, and greatly enhanced comfort and functionality.
Phase 1, the 100,000 sf addition, included entry and food court renovations, meeting rooms, lounges, dance rehearsal studios, a ballroom, and offices and support space for the Center for Leadership and Service, the Department of Student Activities and Involvement, the Office of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, GatorWell Health Promotion Services, and student clubs and organizations.
Phase 2, the 50,000 sf renovation, included new energy-efficient windows and doors, restoration of exterior surfaces and structural components, replacement and upgrades of electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, and upgrades to interior finishes and lighting.
Careful phasing ensured that the Reitz continued to serve UF’s 50,000 students throughout construction.
With rising tuition expenses and ever-increasing cost of living, more students than ever are put in a position in which they must work rather than study, putting their education at risk.
Since 2015, the University of Florida has committed to providing a solution to address food insecurity on campus. The Field and Fork Pantry offers the student body a chance to reclaim their energy and dedicate the necessary time to learning.
Phase I of the food pantry, which amounted to a ‘trial-run’ approach, proved to be a huge success, with an average of 10,000 transactions a year. This set the stage for our Phase II expansion. The initiative had plenty of room to grow, but the budget for the project was set. Although the original conception of the Phase II project carried a million dollar price tag, the University only had $600k to complete it.
UF Planning Design & Construction
The Brentwood Company
The Ohmega Group
Structural Engineers Group (Closed)
The Walker Architects design team developed a plan to use existing walls on site to minimize waste and reduce unnecessary expense to the project. With much of the budget returned to the project, those funds were directed into the interior of the expanded space.
In contrast to the bare-bones aesthetic of Phase I, Phase II could now have a look and feel that communicated a new message to the student body: this is a place for more than just food. With the input and guidance of Assistant Director for Student Success, Ambre Hobson, the new design helps to turn the vulnerable experience of receiving charity into one of comfort and confidence, through carefully selected materials that express a warm and welcoming environment.
The Phase II expansion even includes an accessible demonstration area in which patrons, both in-person and online, can learn how to cook the food they take home from the Pantry – a new form of education previously not available on campus.
Made possible by the University of Florida's charitable initiative and a creative design solution, this project has become a space that improves the lives of students across campus everyday.
“It was an absolute joy to work with each of you. Thanks to your exceptional talents, this expansion is a huge success. Students comment all the time on how beautiful the space is. Your attention to design and function and detail does not go unnoticed. Thanks to you, we’re able to feed even more hungry students and staff on our campus.”
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