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$22.5 million construction project coming to WCU

fr wcubuildingCampus dining is headed for an upgrade at Western Carolina University, with renovation toward a new and improved Brown Building due to start this fall.

The $22.5 million project will add about 25,000 square feet to the 30,000-square-foot building, with amenities to include a new dining hall; franchises such as Starbucks and Steak and Shake; an outdoor fire pit and indoor fireplace; and offices for residential living, campus student groups and Base Camp Cullowhee, the university’s outdoors program. Total seating capacity in Brown will increase to 940.

“I know students are extremely excited about this,” said Carolina Pierce, president of the Student Government Association. 

The university has hired a designer — Charlotte-based Watson Tate Savory — and has in hand a set of artist renderings showing what the finished product might look like. The design will retain the brick façade of the existing building but add variety by incorporating glass and stone elements. The concept met a favorable reception at the Board of Trustees’ meeting last week. 

“It is gorgeous and I’ll tell you, I was thrilled to find out there’s more dining seating here than in the dining hall we currently have, so it really is expanding our capacity,” said Chancellor David Belcher. “That’s what we need given the fact we’re growing at such a rapid clip.” 

Originally, WCU had aimed to start construction in July to have the project done in time for the fall 2016 semester. Issues with the site and state construction submittals pushed the timeline back a bit, with construction now expected to begin this fall. The building should be ready for students by spring 2017. The Courtyard Dining Hall will remain open, with Brown serving to compliment its offerings and alleviate overcrowding.

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