By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Lynn University students have a new place to congregate on campus.
After 18 months of construction, the Christine E. Lynn University Center was officially opened last month.
Students, faculty and donors gathered outside the 65,000-square-foot modern designed building as President Kevin Ross and major donor Christine Lynn cut the ribbon to the student union.
“This space truly is at the heart of our campus,” President Kevin Ross said. “It will be the pulse of our campus. It will be alive day and night.”
The original student union was built in 1962 when the school was a two-year women’s liberal arts school called Marymount College and had about 500 students enrolled. Two nuns from back in those days were in attendance during the grand opening of the new center.
Now, Lynn has 3,000 students and Ross said the student population outgrew the space years ago.
“This building has been a labor of love,” he said. “This University Center has been a long time coming for Lynn. It was a dream we wrote down in 2015.”
But the idea for the center dates back even further. A master plan for the campus was conducted in 2008 and it identified plans for a new student center.
The building is three stories and has 24-hour dining, Career and Alumni Connections, Center for Learning Abroad, Schmidt Family Campus Store, Perper Mailroom, Christine’s bar and coffee shop, student affairs offices, collaboration spaces and more.
“Every space is student focused,” Ross said.
From the Irving and Barbara Gutin Living Room where students can hang out in a comfortable setting to Elaine’s, a multipurpose room gifted by Elaine Johnson Wold with a stage for performances, students have places to socialize and study.
Mary’s Kitchen named after Mary Perper features different cooking stations including a pizza oven and salad bar.
On the second floor, coffee can be purchased at Christine’s and student organizations will have new offices to work from. The third floor is home to co-working spaces and the university’s Social Impact Lab.
The project was kicked off thanks to a $15 million gift from Christine Lynn, the largest donation in the school’s history.
She then challenged other donors to step up and make the center, the school’s largest project, a reality. Other donors pitched in and raised the total $35 million needed to build the center.
“On behalf of my fellow donors I can hardly express how excited I am to deliver to the entire Lynn University campus this building,” Lynn said minutes before she cut the ribbon and students flooded the center. “I hope the Christine Lynn Center truly becomes the heart of learning,
collaboration and social life of our campus.”
The building was designed by Gensler, which completed the master plan and designed several other buildings on campus.
“The inspiration is the students,” design director Brian Watson said. “We wanted to build something that showcases what they are doing.”
The building is open and transparent with large windows and natural light that flows in. From anywhere on campus you can look in and see what is going on inside.
The building was designed to look like a home with a front porch that leads into the living room.
“It is a home away from home for the students,” Watson said. “It’s the central gathering place.”
He said the building is one of the most sustainable student centers in the country and it is seeking LEED Gold certification.
“Seeing the students walking around is the best part,” he said.
Senior Natalia Narvaez addressed the crowd and said she was excited to celebrate the realization of a dream that began in 2015.
“I can’t think of a better way to showcase our school and our beautiful campus,” she said of the new addition.