Students at the University of Louisville have a new and improved “campus living room” now that the renovation of the beloved Swain Student Activities Center is complete, just in time for the start of their school year. After two years on site, the Shiel Sexton project team vacated their makeshift office inside of the Student Activities Center, which underwent $35 million in renovations and addition. The team is currently finishing up minor punch list items on the expansive 309,400 SF project.

Renovation of this massive building required an intricate phasing plan, as the University of Louisville remained open and accessible to students, staff, and visitors throughout construction. The most challenging aspect of this project was the logistics of working within an occupied building.

“Keeping the students, faculty and staff safe at all times was our number one priority.  With four or five thousand people coming through the building daily, it was imperative that we planned our work weeks or months in advance so that the University could approve our plans and give ample notice to the public,” says Superintendent Ryan Anderson. “Secondly, the timeframes to complete certain phases were amongst the tightest that I have encountered.”

The renovation retrofitted the Student Activities Center to suit the increasing number of students utilizing the building. An especially strenuous aspect of the project was the relocation of the Campus Store, which was finalized in just seven short weeks so students visiting for orientation could purchase supplies and spirit wear. The main entrance was transformed from a clunky, blocky space to an open, welcoming area. Four sets of escalators with ornamental stairs replaced the original pedestrian bridge to make traveling through the building easier. To accommodate the needs of the Health & Sport Science Department, part of the existing open gym area was converted into lab and testing rooms. The renovation provided enhanced dining facilities and retail areas with outside patios, new lounge areas, upgraded infrastructure, and an updated building façade. Additionally, the existing air handling units were replaced, and new HVAC controls were installed throughout the building.

The project also included a 32,969 SF addition designed to pursue LEED® certification. The project added 16 new meeting rooms to support student organization events, departmental functions, and University-wide activities. The Herman and Heddy Kurz Pavilion now allows the University of Louisville to serve large private and public events, such as wedding receptions and fundraisers. Construction of the warming kitchen provides space for catering staff to prepare and assemble food before it heads out to the events floor. The main kitchen area, which aids all food services, was also relocated and revamped to keep up with culinary demands.

Shiel Sexton has had a presence on the University of Louisville campus since 2014 and has been proud to help improve student life. Take a look at the video below to see the upgrades and changes to the Swain Student Activities Center!