Melissa Girgis, For The Miami Student

Construction continues on the Armstrong Student Center.. Phase one of the project is expected to be completed by January 2014. (Lauren Olsen | The Miami Student)

Large fencing, building skeletons and sounds of drilling make Miami University’s new Armstrong Student Center hard to miss. The structure is the only building on campus that has been designed exclusively to meet the curricular and extracurricular needs of students, boasting features including a 500-seat theatre, around the clock dining facilities, an outdoor terrace and an extensive space for accommodating large groups of people.

“I live right by the construction site and it’s cool to see all the progress on Maple Street,” Junior Mason Hood said. “It was really crowded in Shriver [center] especially over the summer; there was definitely a big need [for a larger facility].”

Some students believe that the new student center is a necessary action for Miami.

“A lot of other universities like Ohio State [University] have really nice student centers, so it makes sense that Miami would build one to stay competitive,” Sophomore Beau Samples said.

Senior Project Architect and Manager John Seibert said he has been very pleased with the progress this summer and said the project is on schedule and on budget.

“Over the summer we poured the first and second floor in-fills, put in a new loading dock on the north side by Culler Hall and began putting in major mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems,” Seibert said. “We started work on the interior walls of Gaskill [Hall] as well.”

Fundraising for the project has been going equally well according to Susie Sadler, the senior director of development for the student center.

“We have already raised $31 million, mostly through donations from alumni and friends of the university, and we will continue to fundraise,” Sadler said. “Plenty of opportunities to give to the project are still available through the website or by contacting me directly.”

According to Seibert, phase one, which involves the construction of the center’s main structure, as well as renovation on Rowan and Gaskill halls, is expected to wrap up by January 2014. Miami’s website has construction site pictures, floor plans, sketches and updated project details.

“Walking around campus the site didn’t look any different to me, but I actually went to the website and looked at all the pictures since you can’t see much from the outside,” junior Ethan Vargo said.

“Signature spaces” such as the bicentennial rotunda-a two-story atrium with spiral staircases- and an indoor representation of Miami’s trademark Slant Walk, characterize the building that will become the center of curricular and non-curricular student activities.

“The most exciting part is having the building take shape this fall,” Seibert said. “Now the focus is to deliver the vision we have of all the great opportunities it will afford students.”