UC East built for connections

Dani Palmer

Armed with scissors glistening in the spring sunlight, the USI Board of Trustees, along with other community members, gathered at the cone to participate in the grand opening of UC East.

“UC East is about connections, on campus and within the region,” said USI President Linda Bennett during her outside speech March 3.

She explained the importance UC East has in the Evansville community, and made connections between the new building and the several local businesses and organizations that made the building of UC East possible.

“UC East makes a powerful statement about USI’s connection through the region through the use of materials from businesses in the area,” she said.

The conical tower is constructed from Indiana limestone that is generally not used for construction.

Other features are the support columns spread throughout the building, which are made of red drainpipe manufactured in Southern Indiana.

One of the more historically significant features of UC East, the Orr Iron Arch, stands in the student lounges.

It was the main entrance to the 1912 Orr Iron headquarters near downtown Evansville and now serves as a porthole to the two student lounges.

Dan Arens, a retired Evansville businessman, attended the ribbon cutting upon invitation.

“Linda Bennett’s speech was very appropriate. She talked about the meaning of the building, the arch, and the chair legs on the ceiling, and the cone,” he said. “It’s a beautiful space, very contemporary. I have never seen a space like the Student Government’s (office) before.”

While UC East’s architectural design incorporates aspects of Southern Indiana within its structure, adding regional and historical significance, it’s a building designed for present and future students, Bennett said.

“The project is an architecturally significant accomplishment,” Bennett said, “but its main value is that the facility will help us meet the needs of a growing and changing student body.”

Lauren Rakes, student member of the Board of Trustees, said the design of the building focuses on students and encourages them to gather at the center of campus.

“This expanded university center is the hub of campus, figuratively and literally,” Rakes said. “The tower above us is truly a new campus landmark.”

UC East is also boasted to be entirely “green.”

Rakes said the building is highly efficient in terms of energy use and with the utilization of local sources.

“With the reuse of the former library structure, it is essentially a recycled building, saving a piece of campus history but also adding great new space and architectural beauty,” she said.

Student Events member Jennifer Tillman said she admires the creativity of UC East and the conversion of the old library into an entirely different building.

Various student organizations with new offices in UC East gave tours and hosted open houses to show off their new spaces.

USI’s gospel group, Designed by Grace, performed in the lobby, and USI’s jazz band was also present.