On Feb. 3, Seton Hall announced plans for a major renovation of the University Center with some renderings but few details. The Setonian was able to uncover more specifics by obtaining a series of documents submitted by the University to the South Orange Planning Board, made available to the public via the Village’s website.
Construction on the building is expected to take approximately 18 months and will begin in the late spring. Major components of the project are set to take place over the summer to lessen the impact during the next academic year.
According to the plans, the west entrance, facing the green, will contain two new outdoor performance spaces—an amphitheater and a stone-paved performance area—which will host events “similar to activities currently hosted on the green,” according to the documents.
Beside the cafeteria will be a public fire pit with seating mounted at a distance for safety.
Along the front of the new Center—outside the space currently occupied by Pirate’s Cove—will be a stone-paved plaza.
The Pirate’s Cove will be reconfigured into what the plan labels “West Dining,” a more open-planned space with folding glass partitions that open up to the plaza outside. There is a Starbucks in the building, though it is unclear if this will be a full-service Starbucks location or a service similar to the current Pirate’s Cove.
A new theatre and TV studio space will be constructed on the first floor. The theatre-in-the-round will become a semicircle with the rest of the current theatre repurposed into a lobby. The new stage in the theatre-in-the-round will become wheelchair accessible.
The area currently known as the Living Room is labeled as “Central Cafe” in the plans and will contain a Jersey Mike’s, replacing the one that was constructed in the commuter cafeteria last year.
The first floor will also contain new offices for the Student Government Association, the Student Activities Board and several other organizations.
The ground floor, which is home to the cafeteria and renovated in 2018, will expand the existing cafeteria seating space to encompass the commuter cafeteria—which has been shuttered since the start of the pandemic.
The second floor will receive renovations to the existing faculty lounge and University Club—a dining space for University employees—and several administrative offices. A new lobby and a prayer room are also slated to be included in the renovations.
At the eastern side of the building—which faces the Arts & Sciences building and Xavier Hall—the current garden will be replaced with new prayer and meditation gardens.
There will also be a new entrance to the Center which will connect the new garden to the lobby that will be added to the theatre-in-the-round.
“Our current Center is 59 years old and long overdue for a substantial update,” University spokesman Michael Ricciardelli said. “This renovation will create a vibrant hub of campus life that will greatly enhance the amenities provided and will better serve the needs of a 21st century student body.”
Daniel O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @itsDanOConnor.