U of M University Center demolition underway - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

U of M University Center demolition underway

As the walls of the University Center came down Wednesday morning, Jay Anderson was one of many watching. "This is a place to meet people, eat, look at tv," he said.

Anderson was the director of the student center until last year.

In fact, he was there when it opened almost 39 years ago.  "We've had everybody from presidents of the United States, performers of every caliber, singers, dancers," he said.

But times have changed.  New buildings have been built and this building has outlived its usefulness.

University officials say the building has been falling apart for some time, from leaking pipes and to corner walls that have weakened and buckled from small earthquakes over the years.

Still, this place holds many memories for employees and alumni.

Christine Wood graduated two years ago and now works on campus.

Wood has a wish list for the new center.  "Better food court and better seating just in general for people to lounge around because it needs better stuff," she said.

Someone must have been listening because the new center has all that plus a theater, computer lab, post office and ballroom.

Paid for with student fees, it's expected to open in about two years.

And ready for new memories to be made.

The demolition is expected to be finished by mid-May.  Construction should begin mid-June.

Video of the demolition is attached to this story!

Background on the "old" facility from the U of M:

The existing university center was funded by the Bond Authority of the State; the bid price from the contractor Allen and O'Hara was $3,488,993 or $19.19 per square foot to build the UC's  81,808 square feet.  Raymond Martin and Associates designed the building; they were paid a fee of $186,268 dollars, or about 5 % of the construction cost.

The construction contract was awarded in September of 1966.  The facility included the bookstore, dining area, billiard room, lounges, conference rooms, ballroom, and the concourses when it was occupied in 1968. The University used the building as the main student center continuosly with minor interior renovations occurring in the '80s and '90s.  The building was never totally renovated, and most of the finishes and building systems are original.

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