Entire campus will benefit from Gateway

The University Gateway project, an alumni and visitor center on the northwest corner of Oak Street and Washington Avenue, will be a source of pride for future University students.
Currently, the bones of the structure, along with the hefty price tag, are all that students can see. With many College of Liberal Arts buildings falling far behind the Institute of Technology and Carlson School of Management in terms of amenities and aesthetics, the more than $40 million shelled out for a new visitor center seems wasted. In time, however, the creation of a new gathering place in Stadium Village, complete with summer amphitheater and winter ice rink, will benefit the University.
The University Gateway plaza will become another “grassy knoll” upon which students will find themselves studying, sleeping, chatting or even playing hack. Stadium Village is dominated by one long street lined with fast food restaurants. The Gateway will introduce beauty into an area that sorely needs it, enhancing the sense of community on campus.
The building will be six stories high and will have 230,000 square feet. The skeletal beams will soon support massive windows, pouring light into the building during the day, and out of it during the night. A Heritage Center, documenting the achievements of the University and its sons and daughters will be housed within Gateway.
The site of the Gateway project was originally the location of Memorial Stadium. Since the stadium was demolished in 1992, the land has been used as an unsightly, above-ground parking lot. When the project is complete, parking will have been transported underground, while grass and barbecue pits commandeer the space left behind. Bricks salvaged from the stadium will be used to construct a 55-foot-tall arch inside Gateway, providing a link from the past to the future.
The University Gateway, like Northrop Mall, the areas surrounding the Social Sciences Building, the East River Flats Park and the “grassy knoll” by Peik Hall, will anchor the campus, providing a focal point for students in the Stadium Village area. The visitor center will also put the University on par with most other larger schools, in that we will have a welcoming center of our own.
The East Bank of campus will be flanked by Weisman Art Museum at its western end and the University Gateway toward the east. Students will be able to gaze upon two beautiful examples of architectural creativity, no matter from which side they enter campus.
Gateway is being paid for by the Alumni Association and rent charged to the University. The underground parking ramp will be open to all, and will be paid for by commuters.
The University sprawls over 1,000 acres in Minneapolis and St. Paul, so each new potential gathering place for students and staff is a boon. With more than 40,000 students walking past each other every day, the tendency to look at your feet and trudge to class is great. The Gateway will reduce this temptation.
The University Gateway is well-intended and promises a better campus atmosphere. If the plaza is a success in terms of the number of students found there on any given day, then the millions of dollars will not have been wasted. In the future, postcards from the University will include photographs of the University Gateway, alongside those of Weisman, Northrop and other University monuments.