By Alex Maggos
Students at Western Michigan University’s main campus are waiting another 18 months on top of the three years of construction already completed due to a structural integrity problem with the beams on the new student center.
The student center, which resides in the south side of campus within the new Hilltop Village, will have eight micro-restaurants, an art gallery showcasing students’ work, a dozen meeting rooms, a Starbucks and an on-campus bar.
WMU officials had to delay the student center’s opening until Spring 2023 due to structural problems with the internal beams that were discovered when the building did not pass a vibrations check. Construction crews were sent home on May 4, 2022 after an investigation into the vibrations check deemed it unsafe to work and returned a few days later to repair it, according to mlive.com. The result so far is disappointment, closed shops and offices in the current student center, and detours around the construction site on campus.
The company overseeing construction, Cannon Designs, will assist WMU with the new $99 million student center, located next to the Waldo library and across from Sangren Hall. The University broke ground for the building back in September of 2019 expecting it to be done by fall of 2022. Western Michigan University experienced a 26% increase in enrollment this fall according to local news outlet WWMT, and the promise of a new student center was a natural angle for recruitment. Students were excited about this addition to campus, and many said they were disappointed to arrive to campus this fall to see metal fencing still surrounding the new building.
The current student center, Bernhard Center, is used for a variety of different things but since WMU officials were anticipating the opening of the new student center, many offices, shops and eateries in the current center are shut down or temporarily moved. Students of WMU use the Bernhard Center for studying, eating and as a place for meeting but since they were planning on moving, they don’t have access to certain offices and restaurants that once resided in the lower level of the “Bronco Mall” in the Bernhard Center.