The City of Columbia’s Design/Development Review Commission recently approved the design of a new $26-million Alumni Center that is going to be constructed in the heart of the city. This marks the final step of approval, allowing construction of the building to begin at the end of the summer this year, according to The State newspaper. University officials are thrilled that their alumni will have a place to return that is all their own, as the project is set to be completed by May 2015.
Plans for the building were unveiled in May 2013. It’s the last Alumni Center to be completed in the Southeastern Conference, but Jack Claypoole, executive director of the alumni association at the university, told The State that it would be the most superior center in the entire conference. The University of South Carolina Alumni Center will be located at the corner of Lincoln and Senate streets in Columbia, and the design itself complements the facades of other downtown city buildings. It serves as a bridge from the university to the alumni to the community at large, as its visual elements take into account its academic heritage as well as its central location in the city.
When construction is complete, University of South Carolina alumni will be able to travel back to Columbia to visit the 65,000-square-foot building. Inside this behemoth of a building will be 13 different meeting rooms, one of which will be a ballroom equipped to fit nearly 1,000 people in it. Alumni and other members of the public can rent the various meeting rooms in the facility for their personal and business needs. All rentals will take place through the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, which is located right across the street from the site of the future Alumni Center. Eventually, an underground tunnel will connect the two buildings, making it convenient for visitors to access both buildings with ease.
Ultimately, university officials as well as alumni association leaders want to the University of South Carolina Alumni Center to be a place where university alumni can call home. While they will always have the opportunity to visit their Alma Mater’s campus, that is a place for the students to call their own. An Alumni Center that resembles the architecture of their university and fits into the heart of their favorite city is the perfect way to attract university graduates to come back and visit often.
Claypoole told The State that this is a project that has taken more than 160 years to complete. The 21st century facility is being created strictly with fundraising dollars that were privately raised. The alumni association and other university fundraising officials worked with graduates in order to raise the money that was needed to complete this building. Now that the design plans have been approved by the city, reality is setting in. A project that was started by alumni and funded by alumni is now going to come full circle and provide alumni with a place of their own in Columbia.