LEXINGTON, Ky. — The new Gatton Student Center at the University of Kentucky is open and welcoming students. The grand opening celebrating the center will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday, August 31 and will continue throughout the day. The festivities will include some remarks and a coke toast to Gatton at noon.
In addition to the toast, Friday’s celebration will include a DJ, performances by student bands, free food, giveaways, a Ben Sollee concert and more. A list of all the day’s activities can be found here: www.uky.edu/gattonstudentcenter/grandopening.
The UK student center is named after businessman and philanthropist Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton, whose $20 million foundational gift made possible the major three-year renovation and expansion of the building.
John Herbst, Executive Director of Gatton Student Centre, said it was “the culmination of the work of so many students, faculty and staff committed to developing the reimagined and completely transformed student centre. It is a remarkable tribute to the students of yesterday, today and tomorrow. It celebrates the unique experiences of community and cultural development that will take place in this awe-inspiring place. I believe it will stand out for many years as one of the best student center experiences in North America.
The $200 million, 378,000 square foot facility is a mix of tradition and modification. It contains modern, high-tech spaces for students and visitors while showing Kentucky’s pride in its history.
The Gatton Student Center offers many of the same programs and services of the old building, but with significant upgrades. What’s inside:
- a new, expanded Cats Den;
- a new, larger ballroom;
- a new on-air studio and production area for WRFL;
- state-of-the-art meeting rooms;
- an upgraded state-of-the-art Worsham Cinema;
- a revamped British Federal Credit Union;
- a new two-story UK bookstore operated by Barnes & Noble with a Starbucks and Apple Tech store; and
- a new space for Wildcard identifiers.
The dining space includes retail restaurants as well as the 750-seat Champions Kitchen – where students and employees can experience multiple dining concepts including a scratch bakery, breakfast station, salad bar by hand and a “worry-free zone” where food is prepared in a gluten-free, peanut-free, tree-nut and shellfish-free kitchen.
New spaces have also been added to the Gatton Student Center for student convenience and experience. New additions to the center include Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, interactive maps and orientation, a UK Police Community Affairs office, a PNC Bank space, a Student Government Association Senate chamber for use by student organizations and university departments, new spaces for student organizations and the UK Welcome Centre. Large outdoor plazas feature fire pits and rooftop terraces for students or visitors to study, socialize, or relax and enjoy the beauty of campus.
The Alumni Gym fitness center is also integrated into the overall Gatton Student Center footprint. The architects were able to keep the original 1924 exterior of the Alumni Gymnasium intact, which can be seen inside and outside the student center. The gym offers a variety of equipment as well as healthier refreshment options in the Wildcat pantry. Alumni Gym is free for students and employees have the option of purchasing a membership.
Philip Latiff, associate director of business and operations at Gatton Student Center, praised the collaboration between the past and the future: I think they did it in a really transparent way.
The student center also features artwork as well as tributes to Kentucky in architecture. The ballroom carpets are an interpretation of the Lexington town plan. The social staircase not only features the built-in letters from the college fight song, but the detailed design was inspired by the way water carves Kentucky limestone into the creeks and riverbeds at Raven Run and is meant to reflect the river of knowledge that flows through the university. .
The Gatton Student Center was created with the idea of building a bridge to the next generation and that’s exactly what Brandon King, a Gatton Student Center tour guide and College of Nursing student, thinks he is doing. “I love having a dedicated student space, and that’s also reflected in its architecture and facilities.”
The Student Center is open from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week during regular academic times, with events held during those times, such as movies or gatherings for students in the Cats Den.
Gatton Student Center tours are available Monday through Friday. Read more about tours here: www.uky.edu/gattonstudentcenter/student-center-tours. Information on room rental rates for university departments and external organizations can be found here: www.uky.edu/gattonstudentcenter/room-rates.