FREDONIA - A year of intense construction at the Williams Center is nearly over.
The "student hub" of the State University at Fredonia campus had a major overhaul on its ground and upper floors during the year it was closed. The building, which held the multipurpose room as well as campus offices and conference rooms, was gutted and transformed with a new floor, more natural light, an improved floor plan and even a Tim Hortons. The building was a flurry of construction over the summer as dramatic changes to the multipurpose room closures, new size-adjustable conference rooms and work on the original skylights was finished.
"It is quite a dramatic difference. You can see what it will look like even though there is still some construction equipment in the multipurpose room now," Michael Barone, SUNY Fredonia public relations director.
Williams Center renovations added natural light by re-opening of the building’s original skylights, as well as installing new wood and glass features.
He said only final touches are left to complete before the beginning of classes.
"Everything is done except for things they call 'punch list' items. These are things like a touch of paint, some wallpaper, making sure all the light bulbs work. ... The building is open and operational," he said.
According to Barone, all of the offices which were temporarily moved to trailers in the Dods Hall parking lot have moved back and are getting ready for the start of the school year.
"It's just a matter of some furniture, carpet and some finishing touches, nothing is preventing them from being open and functional at the beginning of classes (Monday)," he said.
Offices in the Williams Center include the ticket office, credit union, campus life office, student association, the Leader, the volunteer and community service office and the FSA office. Barone said Tim Hortons also had a soft opening Wednesday.
"Students will just have to be patient as finishing touches are completed, but I don't think it will be a problem when they see the upgrades to the space, it is a welcome change," he added.
Barone said there will be a grand opening for the building Sept. 28 in conjunction with Homecoming activities.
"It will be a sort-of kick off for Homecoming. I'm sure alumni will like to see the improvements that were made because they had access to the building before and they remember it from when they were in school. It is quite a dramatic difference," he said.
However the first big event to be held in the building will not be the grand opening.
"The inauguration dinner will be held in the multipurpose room Sept. 20. It will be the first really big event in the building, even before the official dedication," Barone added. "But it will be up and running for the start of classes."
The Williams Center has served as a "student hub" on campus for more than 60 years. The building was originally called the Campus Center until it was re-named in 1996 after H.K. Williams III, the former owner/publisher of the Evening Observer.
The past year's construction was a part of the 2008 to 2013 capital plan and also included creating a safer walkway on Old Main Drive and upgrading mechanical systems. The Center Point dining hall, on Williams Center's lowest level, was renovated five years ago.