Patio project completed

New covered seating on the south side of the union building.

The Shepherd Union Building was designed with large windows to bring the outside in. After going through a recent remodel, the building now brings the inside out.

“I think it adds another dimension to the building and extends the building into the outdoors,” said Bill Fruth, director of the Union. “Now we’ve kinda taken the inside out. It’s really an extension of the Union; it just doesn’t have walls.”

The new 2,700 square foot patio area is covered by a large pavilion that includes six fans to keep it cool in the heat and heaters to keep it warm in the cold. It’s located just outside the south entrance of the Union.

“I think it would be hard to be out there in 10 degrees and a snowstorm,” Fruth said.

Students were already using the space Monday and Tuesday as minor tweaks were made to the pavilion’s electrical system.

“Right now, it is actually cooler than inside where all the students are,” said WSU seinor Kelly Jensen. “So it’s kinda nice to get away and still be nice and cool. It was kinda like hot and really busy and loud. Kinda like when you get out on your porch at home.”

Fruth said that the patio’s furnishings were purchased to give it a homely, nonindustrial feel. The four round tables and chairs are wooden.

“It’s something that you would maybe have on your back deck.” Fruth said.

There’s also a fire pit on the southwest corner of the patio and an opening in the ceiling above.

“That would be really cool, like in the winter,” said Kurt Jensen, Kelly Jensen’s twin brother.

The pavilion cost a little more than $200,000 and was funded through a Capital Refurbish and Remodel Fund. Construction on the pavilion was started midsummer and crews intensified their efforts in August to complete it in time for the start of fall semester.

“I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s not a patio for a backyard.” Fruth said. “It’s an industrial patio that has to be able to withstand all the same building codes that we have inside the building.  We wanted it to be real quality. It’s meant to be there for a long time.”

Many concepts for the pavilion were discussed before Fruth chose architecture intended to complement the Union Building.

“We thought we had an attractive entrance and we wanted to enhance that.” Fruth said. “That’s why the architecture is the way it is.”