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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 1, 2008

Memorial Union West Lounge

West Lounge Photos by Bob Elbert.

Lots of new features to check out at the Memorial Union

by Anne Krapfl

A lot of plywood construction walls came down at the Memorial Union this week, exposing renovated rooms and hallways that have been off limits since last April. A primary goal of the work is to improve foot traffic in the building.

Give yourself an extra 20 minutes for a quick walk-through the next time you head to the Union. Here's a summary of some of the changes:

Hotel front desk

Hotel desk at east end of the second floor

  • There's daylight at the east end of the main hallway. The building's front desk, including hotel desk and parking ramp pay counter, has been moved to the east end of the building and now sits between the Cardinal and Oak rooms. A former storage area in that space was removed, exposing exterior windows.
  • The Maintenance Shop ticket office function, formerly also at the front desk, moved into its own counter just inside the entrance to the M-Shop. All M-shop ticket sales, including phone sales, will take place there. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and one hour before shows begin.
  • The stairs and elevator tower at the northeast corner of the building is open. It connects to every level of the parking ramp, and provides access into the Memorial Union at the third, second and basement floors. Best of all, it's heated. (By the way, those former ramp entrances to the building, on floors 2 and 3, now are locked and are fire exits only.)
  • A new public hallway provides east-side access to the Sun and Oak rooms, South Ballroom and Great Hall. Users of those rooms who park their vehicles in the MU ramp no longer have to walk the length of the building to reach those meeting spaces. (The remodeled Great Hall and South Ballroom went into use early in the fall semester; a slightly smaller Oak Room is ready for use now.)
  • A new north entrance to the building, at ground level adjacent to the north elevator tower, opens directly to the expanded University Book Store.
  • The final phase of the bookstore remodel has begun. Access to the bookstore from the MU food court is closed until April. In addition to the new north entrance, you can reach the bookstore from the new south entrance and a new west entrance off the MU terrace.
  • This phase includes construction of ISU Dining's 2,100-square-foot MU Market and Cafe, a convenience store and coffee shop combination at the west end of the bookstore. It will replace the existing MU Cafe and Onion's. ISU Dining officials said they'll develop a timeline for that changeover when construction is further along.
  • A new 15-stall women's restroom and a separate family restroom are nearly complete in the location of the former second-floor Regency Room. They're scheduled for completion in mid-February, at which time the existing women's restroom across the hall will close. It will be remodeled to become the MU hotel manager's office.
  • The Cardinal Room became available for use again Jan. 2. It will be recarpeted during spring break.
  • ISU Printing's copy center adjacent to the bowling alley has a remodeled customer service area, located just south of its former "front door."
Copy Center

ISU Printing's reconfigured copy center

Other projects

A few more projects have evolved for available space at the Memorial Union:

  • After several years of planning, Iowa State finally will get a Multicultural Center. It will be located in the east second floor space that wraps around the Gold Room (formerly home to the ISU Alumni Association and most recently, temporary office space for bookstore employees). It will include a library, multi-purpose rooms, lounge area and small kitchen. Student fees will partially pay for this project. Construction should begin at the end of February, with work scheduled to be completed in mid-September.
  • The Office of Admissions will open a 2,500-square-foot visitors center in the west corner of the MU's south addition, on street level. Monday through Saturday, prospective students and their families will gather there to begin their campus tours. It will include a reception area and a 75-seat presentation room. Work is scheduled to begin in March, with the center ready for use in August.

Elevator/stair tower and north entrance to University Book Store


A relocated hotel desk, public access to the east side of the second floor meeting rooms, and a new elevator and stairwell tower that connects the building to the parking ramp are some of the features now completed in a renovation of the Memorial Union.