Thursday, July 18, 2024

Renderings show off future, renovated CSULB Student Union breaking ground in 2026

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The future of the CSULB Student Union—or more formally, the University Student Union building under the project dubbed “The Future U”—looks bright as renderings show off what the space will look like following its groundbreaking in the summer of 2026 when it renovates some 50,000 square feet of space.

The history of the CSULB Student Union and the need for updating

Over half a century old and designed by Long Beach mid-mod master Edward Killingsworth, the University Student Union has become an essential cog in and extension of CSULB’s students: It is a space to eat, to study, to socialize, to relax, to escape. Of course, with time comes weathering and with time comes larger populations: CSULB consistently toggles between the largest or second-largest CSU in terms of student population and applications received—and with it, faces major spatial issues with each new wave of students.

“Infrastructure and major systems are failing,” read a FAQ page dispersed to students last year. “Our incredible Facilities and Maintenance team have done a fantastic job of keeping the union’s aging and decaying infrastructure from becoming a noticeable part of your day-to-day campus experience. The building has only received temporary infrastructural upgrades to postpone the need for a facility improvement as long as possible. It is time that we invested in the future of this campus; it is time to create the Future U.”

While students have lauded the mid-century modern design—and with it, incorporated it heavily into their renderings—they have also consistently been frustrated with areas of the union, from the nearly packed-all-the-time food court

“Have you seen the lines at the food court?” the page reads. “Have you tried to find a space to plug in your laptop and work? Have you tried looking for an available restroom? For a decade, LBSU students have needed more space, more options, and more accessibility in their union. Our primary concern is students’ on-campus experience, and right now we are not able to provide the level of service that we strive to offer because our facility is in desperate need of repairs, renovation and expansion.”

So what will the renovated CSULB Student Union bring to future students?

“The Future U Project” was announced in late 2022 as part of a larger initiative that examines dilapidated structures throughout the campus—and the University Student Union building has seen zero updates or renovations since 1998

“The needs of the student population have grown beyond the current union facility capacity,” reads . This is not the kind of students-first model that we strive to offer. 

50,000 square feet of the facility will be renovated, expanding the current footprint of the University Dining Plaza and Nugget space. The hopeful upgrades?

  • Food service
  • Ballroom facilities
  • Conference and meeting rooms
  • Other retail services
  • Theater and auditorium space
  • Outdoor active social areas
  • Lounge/group study space

What is the cost and timeline of the updated CSULB Student Union?

Setting itself up to hopefully break ground in the summer of 2026, construction will last about two years during which the entirety of the University Student Union will not be open during construction (but the university says it will offer its services in alternate locations).

The project is currently estimated to cost $235.4 million, funded largely by a tuition increase to take place in 2025. Those fees currently cost $220 per semester; that will double to $475 starting in 2025.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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