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One center breaks ground. And another gets ready to come down just across the street.

No sooner have construction crews dug into the site of the future University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Alumni Welcome and Conference Center than official plans have been made for the demolition of “River Center,” or “River Commons” as it was also known. The long-standing University meeting and conference center off Pearl Avenue and Osecola Street was totaled in 2008 flooding that swamped much of the city of Oshkosh.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of our campus community,” said UW Oshkosh Foundation President Arthur H. Rathjen.  “Again, we find ourselves starting another construction project, which will provide a dynamic enhancement for the southern edge of campus and serve as a new front door for community engagement, student recruitment and alumni services on campus. The River Center served our campus well for many years, but, certainly, the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center is going to serve as a great gathering place and bring new enthusiasm to outreach efforts for our campus.”

The contract for River Center’s demolition is expected to be awarded on Wednesday, Jan. 23. It is anticipated approximately 150 days of demolition work will begin shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, Miron Construction has begun construction work on the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center at the corner of Wisconsin Street and Pearl Avenue. Installation of the building’s pilings for the UW Oshkosh Foundation project, driving down to the bedrock on the construction site, will begin on Monday, Jan. 21. It is anticipated that the piling activity will generate some noise but should conclude after 10 working days, according to the University’s Administrative Services division.

Once open, the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center will serve as UW Oshkosh’s new front door. The prominent and easily-accessible 40,000 square foot privately-fundraised and donor-supported center will serve as a landing spot and home for returning alumni, campus visitors and guests and as a hub for community, corporate and student events.  The Welcome Center, which will provide a 30 percent increase in large-group campus meeting space, should be ready to hold events in spring 2014.

The conference center will feature a ballroom with a capacity for 460 people, as well as meeting spaces for groups of 70-80 people, an oversized board room and breakout work rooms. The conference center, owned by the nonprofit UW Oshkosh Foundation and jointly operated by the University, will offer on-site catering and high-tech meeting spaces for alumni, faculty, staff and student events such as educational conferences and alumni reunions.

Beyond serving as the new front door to UW Oshkosh, the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center will also become home to the UW Oshkosh Alumni Relations, Foundation and Business Success Center offices.

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