By Grace Arneberg

Most University of Wisconsin–Stout students do not remember the Memorial Student Center prior to its renovation. Those that do probably would not remember the older version fondly and will agree that the $19 million renovation in 2011 is definitely worthy of acknowledgement.

On Tuesday, April 8, the MSC received a 2014 Facility Design Award from the Association of College Unions International in the $15 to $25 million project category.

The award was presented to UW­–Stout and Mackey Mitchell Architects of St. Louis, but according to Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen, the real winners are the students, faculty, staff and residents who use the facility.

Whenever possible, repurposed and recycled materials from the old MSC were used.  “The architects genuinely cared about revitalizing the building’s good bones,” said Darrin Witucki, University Centers director and point person for the project.

With updated dining venues, a campus store, more welcoming lounge areas and spaces flexible enough to serve a variety of events, the renovation has met its aim of fostering openness and connectivity among the student body.

“The award not only focuses on the structure, but it also puts particular focus on how that structural design facilitates community development,” said Witucki.

The renovation project spent seven years in the planning stages and involved three design committees and direct involvement by more than 50 students. Since re-opening in 2012, building traffic has increased by 21 percent and daily food sales are up 25 percent.

“The student body should be proud of it,” said Witucki. “We are being recognized on an international basis.”

“The Memorial Student Center was almost completely transformed,” said Sorensen. “It has become, as it should be, the hub of student life and social activities at UW­–Stout.”

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