The J. Wayne Reitz Union’s 2 1/2-year renovation and expansion opened on Feb. 1 to the UF community. Students, faculty and staff can now access most of the spaces, as construction crews put the finishing touches on the interior.
The new primary entrance for the facility will be right off of the Reitz Union North Lawn. As people learn to navigate the new space, student employees, Reitz Union professional staff, Reitz Union Board of Managers and RUB Entertainment members in bright blue t-shirts will be ready to help answer any questions during the first week of operation.
The renovated and expanded Reitz Union offers a multitude of opportunities for learning, growth and discovery with new lounges, study spaces, meeting rooms, game room, dance studios, reflection room and more. According to Vice President for Student Affairs Dave Kratzer, the new entrance also helps to better define the space, giving it a new “presence” on campus.
“In the past, if I told you, let’s meet at the Union, where was that? Well, now there’s no question,” said Kratzer. “And while before there really was not much lounge space or place for students to just be, now there’s a place where you can get a cup of coffee from Starbucks and sit in a very nice lounge area to do whatever you’re going to do, or to work on that project with other people.”
In honor of the construction completion, the Division of Student Affairs invites all Gators to participate in the Reitz Union Grand Reopening Celebration Week scheduled for Feb. 15-20. The week’s activities include:
- Game Room Reopening on Monday, Feb. 15
- Student Organization Fair on Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 10 to 2 p.m.
- Department Open House on Thursday, Feb. 18, from noon to 2 p.m.
- Guest Speaker Lil B on Thursday, Feb. 18; doors open at 8:00m. and the show begins at 8:30 p.m. in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.
- GatorNights – Wonderland: Celebrating 15 Years on Friday, Feb. 19
- Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m.
- Center for Leadership and Service Non-Profit Reception and Tour on Saturday, Feb. 20, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
“We have been looking forward to this day for a long time,” said Eddie Daniels, Executive Director of the Reitz Union. “Now that it’s here, we couldn’t be more excited. The building is absolutely beautiful and will enhance the student experience on our campus for many years to come. It’s time! It’s open!”
Recently selected to receive a 2016 award from City of Gainesville’s City Beautification Board (CBB) for its contribution to improving the attractiveness of the city, the Reitz Union expansion consists of approximately 138,000 square feet of new space.
It includes offices and support space for student organizations including student government as well as offices and program space for the Center for Leadership and Service, the Department of Student Activities and Involvement, the Office of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, and GatorWell Health Promotion Services. The third floor, which has always been the home of student government and student activities since 1936, will feature enhanced photos from the Hall of Fame as well as a new home for the Student Senate dubbed “The Chamber.”
The Orange and Brew, now serviced by Wing Zone, connects to a restored game room complete with television monitors. Visitors will also enjoy a new art installation that spans the first and second floors and references to alligators throughout the building—including the slatted wood ceiling that replicates the belly of a gator and alligator footprints in the terrazzo that leads outside.
“Some we want students to discover, but some are pretty much in your face,” said Kratzer about the many alligator motifs scattered throughout. “When you are in the Reitz Union, you know you are in the heart of The Gator Nation.”
For more information about the Reitz Union’s Grand Reopening Celebration week, go to http://www.union.ufl.edu/itstime.