Campus all spruced up for new academic year

A student eats lunch in the recently renovated Rathskeller on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The renovations to Rathskeller are part of the slew of other updates the campus has seen at the start of the 2015 academic year, including the renovations to F.W. Olin Center following flooding last year and the completion of Garnet Commons.­ (Caitlin Williams | Concordiensis)

Over the summer, a number of renovation projects were completed for the start of the new academic year. Major capital projects included overhauling the F.W. Olin Center and Rathskeller after massive flooding to both buildings, while also finalizing the Garnet Commons apartment building.

Minor renewal projects for select buildings were completed as well.

Repairing the south side of F.W. Olin Center was treated as the highest priority for the year, according to Assistant Director of Facilities Marc Donovan. The building was damaged last winter due to a sprinkler-line break.

Renovations included replacing the piping, upgrading the entire electrical infrastructure, improving ventilation systems and installing classroom improvements.

Director of Facilities and Planning Loren Rucinski stated that total costs of renovation amounted to $5.1 million. The costs were covered by Union’s insurance policy. Union contracted with Sano-Rubin Construction Services for this project.

Additionally, Rathskeller was opened for the first time since June 2014 at the beginning of this year, following a year of reconstruction.

Donovan explained that the delayed opening of Union’s pub-style restaurant was primarily due to changing New York state health codes. The previous space did not comply with new requirements by the health department, and therefore needed to be completely reconfigured before opening.

Unexpected damage to the subsurface of the floor and draining systems impeded the project from progressing according to previously established deadlines, as well.

The entire electrical system, which also powered Hale House and Old Chapel, was replaced. Ventilation systems were also upgraded to comply with health codes.

Financing for Rathskeller was also covered by Union’s insurance policy, and renovations amounted to roughly $2.2 million total. Union contracted with Architecture Plus to restore the beloved basement pub-style restaurant.

The final major capital project to be completed was the construction of the Garnet Commons. The new upperclass apartments were built on multiple lots pre-owned by the college, costing $9 million total.

Garnet Commons houses 23 apartments, 80 beds and was built primarily to offer better options for upperclass housing. It also provides an intermediate building between College Park Hall and the main campus.

ENVISION Architects were contracted to design the apartments.

In addition these major capital projects, a variety of minor renewal projects occurred over the summer.

Rucinski stated that the roof of Upper Memorial Chapel, the Peschel Lab roof, Library Colonnade roof and four roofs in the College Park neighborhood were replaced or are in the process of being replaced. Moreover, many of the roads throughout campus were repaved.

A variety of projects will also continue throughout the year. The renovated and renamed Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts is projected to be open next fall term. Donovan also noted that the construction site is expected to block the path between Reamer Campus Center and North College, which holds Wold and Messa houses, for the remainder of the academic year.


Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the architecture firm with which Union contracted to design the new Rathskeller was ENVISION Architects. The firm was actually Architecture Plus.

Previous articleUnion receives HEED Award
Next articleContemplating Haiga art
Matt Wu
Hi! I currently serve as the Editor-in-Chief of the Concordiensis. I'm a currently a junior at Union College and Clarkson University as a B.S. and M.B.A. candidate. I will be attending Albany Medical College in 2017.


  1. Hi Matt,
    I just wanted to comment that your article “Campus all spruced up for new academic year” dated Sep 24, 2015, incorrectly identifies the architect for the Rathskeller as ENVISION architects. architecture+ is the architect that designed the Rathskeller. Please see the links to two articles where it is reported correctly.,-shakes-and-more-return.php

    Thank you.
    Mary Kate Young

Leave a Reply