The Manwaring Student Center on the BYU-Idaho campus in Rexburg, Idaho, represents the final phase of on-campus construction—a transition that has seen the small pioneer academy grow from a two-year college into a modern, four-year university.

The original building was completed in 1966 and named for Hyrum Manwaring, who served as president from 1930-1944. The Manwaring Center, the college’s student union and the heart of the campus, has gone through several revisions, with the current major renovation scheduled for completion later this year. The project consists of remodeling the existing space, along with an addition on the north side that will double the size of the building, from 144,000 sq ft to 285,000 sq ft.

The first phase of Manwaring’s transformation was construction of the north-side addition, completed in 2008. It consisted of a new bookstore on the first floor and food services on the second floor with the majority of the added space in the dining area. The third floor of phase one was additional mechanical space.

The bookstore loading dock occupies some of the space on level two with the inclusion of a freight elevator. After phase one was completed, the bookstore moved to its new space and food services moved to the vacated bookstore area.

The second phase of the renovation was completed during summer 2009. It included the Crossroads food court, a special events room and several new classrooms and conference rooms.

Most of the third phase construction is on the first floor, which will be home to student activities, a new convenience store, JoLynn’s Bakery and Freshens. A “skywalk” is also being built that connects the Manwaring Center with the McKay Library.

Mike Shatzer, project manager for general contractor Okland Construction of Salt Lake City, says it has “taken a big effort” to keep the building up and running and the employees functioning while the remodel is underway.

“It’s like playing musical chairs. When we finished the new bookstore, we relocated the old bookstore to its new location. In the old bookstore, we did a small remodel and converted that space into a temporary kitchen so we could remodel and finish the new kitchen,” he says.

Transitioning the bookstore was critical so students could buy their supplies and textbooks while construction crews kept the remodel moving along.

“A remodel is hard in and of itself,” Shatzer says. “When you add the fact that the building is occupied, that really complicates things. We had portions of the building that are critical to the rest of campus that had to be kept operational.”

Mandy Martineau, project manager for FFKR Architects, also of Salt Lake City, says there has not been any major work on the Manwaring Center since 1977, and the biggest problem with the new addition was how to resolve space constraints on a growing university.

“BYU-Idaho has experienced substantial growth over the past several years,” she says. “The transformation from a two-year to a four-year university required a larger student union building because of the growing student population.”