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Originally published: 2013-02-11 10:23:38
Last modified: 2013-02-11 10:23:38

58,000-square-foot addition completed at student union

Dave Robertson has overseen every transformation of Plemmons Student Union at Appalachian State University since the first addition and renovation was completed in 1995.

Now, he has added the recently completed 58,000-square-foot addition to the student union to his list of accomplishments.

The addition, funded by student fees, was designed to be a one-stop location for many of the programs and offices that support Appalachian's focus on international education, student leadership development and student research, among others.

Robertson, director of student programs, first proposed the addition in 2005. "When I first proposed it, it occurred to me that Appalachian offers wonderful programs and services that are value-added educational experiences, such as involvement in community service, participation in alternative spring break, going on a study abroad experience, or taking a leadership series," he said. 

While the programs have been in place for some time, they were scattered across campus. Robertson envisioned having points of contact for these vital out-of-class educational experiences in one location to serve a great number of students.  

 "By relocating the Office of Student Research, the Office of International Education and Development, the Office of the Dean of Students, along with the Office of Student Conduct, Family and Parent Services and Office of Off-Campus Community Relations into more highly visible space, a greater portion of our student body will likely avail themselves of the opportunities these and other areas offer," Robertson said. 

Also moving to the student union addition from its current space are the Appalachian and the Community Together Outreach Center, Center for Student Involvement and Leadership and Multicultural Student Development. 

The vacated space is being remodeled to provide office space for The Peel, the student literary magazine; expanded space for the LGBT Center; offices for the Pan-Hellenic, Interfraternity and National Pan-Hellenic councils; and a student organization leadership center with a sign shop, copier and fax machine service for student organizations, mailboxes for student clubs, computer work areas and an information desk. 

"We really pride ourselves in offering a real diversity of opportunities," Robertson said. "A student union ought to be a place where every student feels welcome, accepted and embraced as part of the Appalachian family."

 The addition doubles the meeting space available to students and campus organizations. 

"Our professional association used to say we wanted to be the living room of the campus," Robertson said. "Today, we say we should be the community builders for the campus." 

 The theme of naming rooms for area geographic features has continued in the new addition. Parkway Ballroom overlooks Sanford Mall and will accommodate as many as 400 depending on the room configuration and provide banquet space for as many as 208 Other rooms are the Bass Lake Room, Trout Lake Room, Linville Gorge Room, Pisgah Commons and Linville Caverns Room.
The new addition was designed with a focus on sustainability, which should result in a LEED Gold Rating from the U.S. Building Council, according to Robertson. The features include natural daylight harvesting throughout the facility, efficient and dimmable LED and hallway flooring made from recycled tires.

Other features are energy efficient hand dryers in the restrooms, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, wood from certified sustainable forests, carpet manufactured from recycled plastic and water bottle filling stations that show how many plastic bottles have been saved from the landfill by using refillable bottles.