Many attendees at a Memorial Union open forum Monday were happy to see compromise and clarity as members of the Memorial Union Design Committee introduced updated renovation plans.
Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities, planning and management, introduced an alternative proposal for the union theater addition after a slight majority of students recently voted against the original proposal in an Associated Students of Madison referendum.
“After the referendum, I think it was clear that we needed to redesign the theater lounge,” Colin Plunkett, student manager for Memorial Union Reinvestment Project, said. “It’s important for students to know that we value them and we heard what they have to say.”
Compared to the former design’s curved front that extended onto the terrace, the new proposed addition would be rectangular and closer to the building. Fish said the new design respects the original historic building, which is a priority among students, community members and the design committee.
While the new model is not final, Fish said it is headed in the right direction.
”[It is] a new direction that we think will make it a better design architecturally and still functional for what we want to do,” Fish said.
UW-Madison graduate Dylan Mathieu said he has been attending MUR meetings for the past couple years and had been growing increasingly angry about the proposed union theater renovations, until today.
“At first I felt like the students were being ignored for the needs of the theater department primarily,” Mathieu said. “But to see this tonight, this is wonderful. It’s a compromise that I think is going to work for everyone.”
Attendees also said they were concerned the “Alumni Park” set to replace the Union’s parking lot will limit parking availability, especially for guests with specialized handicap vehicles that may not fit in ordinary parking spots.
Fish said the group is working to create disabled spots along or adjacent to Langdon Street to accommodate these vehicles.
Design plans as well as samplings of carpets, tiles, color schemes and other interior decoration materials will be displayed in the Memorial Union’s Browsing Library Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors can vote for their favorites and leave comments on the sample boards.