COVID-19 concerns keep Union renovations on hold, says VP of Student Affairs

The Student Union construction for the Student Activity Center area in Boca Raton has paused due to the stress of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of the design. FAU staff are not sure as to when it will resume.


Samantha Sheradsky

The space formerly occupied by Outtakes.

Samantha Sheradsky, Contributing Writer

Two years after the onset of the pandemic, the COVID-19 surge continues to postpone some Student Union renovations, according to vice president of Student Affairs Larry Faerman.

 As of spring 2020, Union staff paused part of the Student Union Renovation and Expansion Project because of health and safety concerns.

“The Student Union Renovation & Expansion Project included the construction of a large banquet facility. Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, that portion of the project was placed on hold; however, other facilities renovation continued,” Faerman wrote in a Feb. 4 email.

According to OCI Associates, Inc, an engineering company based in Orlando, this expansion project features new plazas, outside spaces for student gatherings, and a new Live Oaks Pavilion.

The large banquet facility Faerman referred to via email is designed to handle events of up to 1,000 people. According to Student Union director Michael Cooper, it is part of the Student Activity Center area of the Union.

“The construction of the room was in the original plans for the overall project. The addition of the Arcade was done as it was a natural, complementary addition to the already established eSports and Gaming Center,” Cooper stated.

Since the Spring 2020 semester, state universities have changed their operations in response to the pandemic. There has been a high rate of COVID-19 cases in Florida, and Union staff are taking significant precautions with the renovations even two years later. 

“The number one priority is still to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty, and all our other visitors to the site,” Cooper wrote in a statement on the Student Union website.

Facilities Management staff maintain the university’s Major Project Status Report, which says that the overall budget for the Union renovation project is $22 million. The UP did not hear back from Facilities Management staff concerning the Student Union project by publication time.

University staff selected Skanska USA Building Inc. as a contractor for the renovation project and a West Palm Beach-based architectural firm called Song and Associates. The UP reached out to both companies for comment but did not receive any response by publication time.

Cooper mentioned that the Union will have other renovations in the future, but the timeline for them is unclear.

“The future projects include a second-floor main building renovation, a new roof for the Conference Center, and plans to build a new building/plaza area to the north side of the current main Student Union building,” Cooper said.

Samantha Sheradsky is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM her on Twitter @samtheham132