The Union redevelopment now has less than a year to go until its completion, with phase two finished and phase three underway.
Phase one involved the changes made to the front of the building, including the construction of Rector’s café and the new Union shop. This stage officially opened on 1 April.
Phase two, which finished this summer, was the splitting of the former main bar into a new, smaller bar and Sandy’s, a pub-style area. These spaces are both open and the new main bar will serve food from Monday 8 September. Phase two also saw the old foyer replaced by a larger reception area, accessible through a new entrance in the side of the building. The ATM in the exterior wall has been reinstated.
The third phase, which will be finished in late October or early November, is the conversion of the top two floors. These will house offices, meeting rooms, society spaces and a new media suite. The former Venue 2 will become the Beacon Bar, serving cocktails.
Venue 1 will remain open until late December, when phase four will begin. Due to be completed at the end of June 2015, this chapter of the redevelopment will modernise the venue and allow it to be divided into two spaces – a club area holding around 500 people and a theatre – when required. The capacity of the overall venue will remain unchanged at 1,000 and the ‘beer bar’ will be kept on, albeit slightly modified.
Leon O’Rourke, the director of events and services, said: “From our point of view this has been an extremely exciting time for the Union but it has had its challenges. I am personally very happy with the progress we’re making and what we can now offer to our students.
“I think the returning students will see a huge difference and our fresher class will hopefully see this Union as the perfect environment for a night out. This has been our aim all along and I feel we’re well on track to change people’s previous perceptions of our building and what we can do. So here’s to an exciting year ahead.”