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AA 26001354

CLIENT : University of Florida
LOCATION : Gainesville, Florida
PROGRAM : Educational/Conventio
AREA : 30,000 SF
COST : $ 5,000,000
OUTLINE : The Reitz Union is the student center for the University of Florida's main campus. Situated in the heart of the university, the Reitz Union contains a plethora of activities ranging from lodgings, student government offices, banks, restaurants, service areas, galleries, meeting rooms and recreational facilities.

The expansion of approximately 30,000 sf over an existing office wing of the Reitz Union includes a two-story ballroom/meeting room(s), additional meeting rooms and office space, as well as the addition of an amphitheater on the east side of the Union, north of the duck pond area.

The Reitz Union Expansion and Amphitheater is a high profile project in the center of UF's main campus. The project had some initial concerns. When the Career Resource Center (CRC) wing was originally built, the structure was meant to support the loading of two additional floors. However, supporting a column-free clear span for a ballroom/convention type function was not anticipated. As a result, the exterior columns could not handle the loading of the clear span that is a general requirement for such a facility.

Our principal designer, Tat Chan, AIA, NCARB, was able to create a solution that controlled costs, maximized value, minimized impacts and was compatible with the existing architecture. The expansion was built on top of the existing CRC without major impacts to the circle drive and the existing on-going functions of the Reitz Union.

During the initial site visit, a conceptual idea was envisioned and later tested. This was to combine the two closely spaced existing column rows at the southern edge of the CRC wing with a truss. This effort distributed the load to both rows of columns, so that foundation work was not necessary on the southern edge of the structure. At the northern edge, a new row of columns was introduced to carry the other half of the long span loading. This was a creative and cost-effective design solution that resulted in the commissioning of the project.

In addition, pre-function spaces adjacent to the major open volume ballroom were looped around its perimeter to allow easy access and egress. Combining existing lounging areas created a lobby for the new expansion, and the use of retractable fire-rated partitions gained valuable space by working with the existing structure. These design features all contributed to the success of this unique expansion.