KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Western Michigan University is making room for a new student center right in the heart of the Kalamazoo campus.
The new Western Michigan University (WMU) student center is just one part of the Hilltop Village Development, which started construction around one and a half years ago.
As it takes shape, students say they're already anticipating its opening.
"With the Bernhard Center getting older, it will be nice to have a new, fresh building. I mean you can see how modern it looks, and the new dining center will be nice too," said Western Michigan University freshman Drew Beckman.
The new student center is right in the heart of the Western Michigan University campus and will offer a number of amenities, services and gathering spaces.
"I think having a dining center in the middle of campus will really bring a lot of the people together. Obviously, having a new student center where everyone can sort of gravitate together is also going to be really good, especially for new students," said another Western Michigan University freshman Will Brandt.
The 165,000-square-foot student center will replace the Bernhard Center, which averaged 6,000-plus people per day, pre-COVID.
"The Bernhard Center was built in 1957, and it really has outlived itself. It has served us well, but it is time for a new building with more to the needs for our students today," said Western Michigan University's Director of the Bernhard Center Paul Terzino.
The $96 million building will include more dining options, study spaces, meeting rooms, a bank, game rooms, the bookstore and even the admissions office.
It will also feature a 3,000-square-foot brewpub, which will serve local craft beers, wine and food.
"Western’s does not, nor does any student center in Michigan that we know of, have something like this. One reason that we are doing it is really unique, and I think it is going to put us on the map as far as that goes. We also have on campus a sustainable brewing program, so we can actually feature our students' work in the pub," said Terzino.
The brewpub will also be able to host large gatherings and will even offer entertainment on certain nights from WMU students.
The entire building design focuses on inclusivity and welcomeness to all who use it, especially students.
"I think this can really be a central focus for all of the things going on like meetings, eating, studying and gathering in the pub," said Terzino.
WMU said it is expecting to open the building by the end of summer next year and have its grand opening in fall 2022.