Speakers share memories, thoughts on renovations at Union ceremony [with video]

Dylan Boyle

The newest renovations to the Memorial Union were unveiled Thursday as faculty members, students, alumni and MU retirees toured the facility’s eleventh addition, connecting past to present.

Approximately 100 people showed up for the dedication and ribbon-cutting, which featured speeches from President Gregory Geoffroy, Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Hoffman,Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Hill, Government of the Student Body President Brian Phillips, senior in political science, and Student Union Board President Alison Comb, senior in journalism and mass communication.

Deb Marquart, professor of English, read the Memorial Union-inspired poem “Palimpsest,” a line of which is featured in the floor medallion in the new south atrium.

The speakers stressed how input and contributions from ISU students played a great role in the renovations. The project’s lead architect, Kerry Weig, graduated from Iowa State with a degree in architecture.

Speakers thanked Chris Martin, associate professor of art and design, for his and his students’ work in designing benches made from recovered oak trees.

Hill said the Memorial Union is really “the house that students built” because of contributions made by students in 1928 to build the initial structure, with students openly paying $3 each semester to fund the most recent renovations.

“We the students are proud to have given in the past,” Phillips said, “and we look forward to helping in the future.”

Geoffroy called the Union “very special.”

“It’s a building that has impacted the lives of many students and faculty,” he said.

Memorial Union Director Richard Reynolds led groups through the 30,000 square feet of new additions and the 30,000 square feet of renovations to the building.

Reynolds said the goals of the new renovations were to make it easier to navigate the building, to add a stair tower to connect the parking ramp to the building, to update mechanical systems and to renovate both the bookstore and Great Hall.

“We wanted to keep the nature of the building and connect the new to the old,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the Memorial Union chose Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture because the firm specializes in restoration work.

“The overall theme of the project was restoration,” Reynolds said. “We tried to incorporate colors and designs from the past.”

Dick Horton, retired professor of electrical and computer engineering, alumnus and former Memorial Union Board member, said he was very impressed with the renovations.

“It’s awesome,” Horton said. “I’m very impressed with the transformation and the quality of work that was done.”

Although the dedication was made Thursday, there is still some work that needs to be completed.

Crews are still working on finishing a new café and marketplace by the bookstore, a multicultural center and a new admissions and visitors center by the Lincoln Way entrance.

After 80 years, the Memorial Union has seen many faces – the faces of its own structure and of those who have walked inside it.

To those who spoke at the dedication, the Memorial Union holds a great place in campus life.

“There are so many wonderful stories from this building,” Reynolds said.