STILLWATER — Even as they put the finishing
Renovations began on the Student Union's ballroom in May, shortly after OSU's graduation, university spokeswoman Carrie Hulsey-
The $63 million renovation of the Student Union began in April 2010, and while most of the project is complete, workers are only now beginning work on the area around the building's ballroom.
In addition to the ballroom itself, that phase of the project includes renovations to the hallway outside the ballroom, the nearby French Lounge and the west porch, a landing that overlooks the Edmon Low Library lawn.
Student Union Director Mitch Kilcrease said the ballroom is one of the more prominent parts of the building. The ballroom is original to the building, Kilcrease said, and in its early days, it provided one of the only social meeting spaces on campus.
That status as a gathering space meant the room carried emotional weight for many who passed through the university, he said.
Before the Conoco
Since the building opened in 1950, the ballroom has also seen heavy use for weddings. The adjacent west porch tends to be a popular spot for marriage proposals, Kilcrease said.
“I hear stories like that all the time,” he said.
The idea of the renovation, Kilcrease said, is to bring the room back to its former glory. Crews are installing updated audio
Across the hall from the ballroom, the French Lounge is the last remaining lounge in a collection of similar spaces that also included a Chinese Lounge and a Modern Lounge.
The original idea behind the lounges was to expose students to cultures other than their own, Kilcrease said.
In the late 1940s, when the building was being planned, many OSU students had never left the United States — and many of those who had traveled abroad did so as military personnel during World War II.
Today, Kilcrease said, OSU students travel the world both through study abroad opportunities and vacations.
While the renovations to the building restored some of the lounge space originally found in the building, it was with less of an eye toward evoking a region or culture than providing a space for students to study or groups to meet.
When work on the ballroom is complete, Kilcrease said, it will regain its status as one of the most prominent spaces on
“It was an elegant space, and still is,” he said. “But it's had quite a few years of use.”