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Progress underway on new FSU student union

Byron Dobson Tallahassee Democrat USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA

Motorists approaching Woodward Avenue along Tennessee Street can’t help but notice the extension of a massive crane appearing tall enough to reach the clouds and a vision showing it extending across the busy thoroughfare.

A closer look brings into view a second crane, equally impressive on the enormous site looking south, behind barricaded fencing indicating something major is taking place at Florida State University.

It is.

From his second-floor office of what is left of the Turner Building, one of six structures making up the student union complex at FSU, Oglesby Union director Matt Ducatt has a bird’s-eye view of construction of the new $100-million student union center currently underway.

Besides the impressive cranes, crews working on the project managed by Ajax Construction are busy moving about on the barricaded property bounded by Woodward to the west, Academic Way on the north, Legacy Walk on the south and on the east closest to Dewey Street.

In June 2018, walls came tumbling down at the iconic Oglesby Union site, marking the time-consuming first phase of demolition before construction begins on a 275,000-square-foot student complex.

Originally planned for completion in late 2020, that date now has been extended to early spring 2021.

“The construction timeline and estimated completion date are still in development,” FSU spokesman Dennis Schnittker said.

The new four-story building, which students helped design, will feature glass walls, modern technology and open outdoor seating. Highlights will include a new food court, Club Down-

See FSU, Page 3A

“Having the opportunity to build a facility that is worthy of the FSU brand ... how sweet is it that we are able to offer it to our community.”

Matt Ducatt

Oglesby Union director

Construction is continuing on the site of Florida State University’s new Oglesby Union, which now is scheduled to open in the spring of 2021. ALICIA DEVINE/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT

Rendering of planned building ARCHITECTS LEWIS + WHITLOCK; WORKSHOP ARCHITECTS INC.

Continued from Page 1A

under, Crenshaw Lanes, the Art Center and space on the west side for Market Wednesday.

There also will be a bigger FSU campus bookstore, new ballrooms and meeting spaces.

Despite the construction barriers in place, Ducatt said services will provided when classes start on Monday, including the food court, the ballrooms and the Arts Center.

“Everything but bowling will be available,” he said. “Our job doesn’t change because you are in a construction mode. We are doing it in the same way, just moving things around.”

Ducatt said the working going on now on the ground is imperative to the more visual construction ahead.

“A lot of folks say, ‘When are we going to see something,’” he said. “The average person doesn’t know what is (already) going on. The progress isn’t very visual. It is laying the foundation to build the building.”

Since June 2018, crews demolished the Crenshaw Lanes, which opened in 1964, the Student Activities Center, the Post Office Building and the west portion of the Turner building.

Ducatt said a lot of work has focused on preparing the foundation, making sure there is appropriate drainage on site and not building on a site prone to flooding.

“Once you dig out the dirt, you don’t do it without addressing the specific needs of site,” he said. “Now, they are starting to build vertically. Once you start to see steel, it becomes more real.”

Still standing is the Davis building, housing the ballrooms and food court; Moore Auditorium and a section of Turner. Ducatt said once the new building is completed, the Davis and Turner buildings will be demolished.

“Where those buildings are will be green space on the east side, and the courtyard will be on the west side (at the current construction site),” he said.

The only original building to remain will be Moore Auditorium.

Ducatt said it is important to understand the new student union complex — which removes the multibuilding model people are used to — will be “transformative” for the campus of Florida State.

“The Oglesby Union is very beloved and part of this community, but it was old and not very modern,” he said. “Having the opportunity to build a facility that is worthy of the FSU brand — a flagship, high-research institution — how sweet is it that we are able to offer it to our community.”

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@ tallahassee.com or on Twitter @byrondobson.

Rendering of interior view of the new student union ARCHITECTS LEWIS + WHITLOCK; WORKSHOP ARCHITECTS INC.

The construction site of Florida State University’s new Oglesby Union, which is scheduled to open in spring 2021. ALICIA DEVINE/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT

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