Groundbreaking event heralds new era for UF’s Institute of Black Culture and Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures

September 17, 2018
Sara Tanner

rendering of UF's Institute of Black Culture and Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures

The University of Florida will celebrate the start of construction on the Institute of Black Culture (IBC) and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures (La Casita) with a groundbreaking ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place on the site the Institutes, at 1510 and 1504 W. University Ave., across from the UF campus. The IBC and La Casita serve as a beacon for cultural progress and a safe space for UF students.

The $9.9 million project will help meet the needs of today’s students while continuing to preserve the cultural histories that each of the facilities represent. The new IBC and La Casita are being designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification. Project completion is expected for fall 2019.

“Over the past year, we have focused on being intentional in how we engage students and alumni in the Institutes Project,” said Will Atkins, associate Dean of Students and senior director for Multicultural and Diversity Affairs. “We hosted numerous input sessions, went to student organization meetings, used polling features via social media, and created an update dashboard, with meeting minutes, audio recordings, and presentation slides - our emphasis has been transparency. We are thankful that so many people have been and will continue to be invested in this exciting and transformative moment in UF's history. “

The project is led by the OAC (Owner- UF/MCDA; Architect – DLR Group; and Contractor – Foresight) team with significant feedback and insight from the Project Team. The project team is currently co-chaired by Eddie Daniels, assistant vice president for Business Services, and Beaudelaine Mesadieu, a student representative.

“My goals of this project include being able to efficiently present both cultures, inspire other cultures to speak up and speak out in order to one day have an Institute of their own, and to make strong ties with other organizations so they can back both institutes,” said Mesadieu.

The design team for the Institutes project was led by DLR Group, DRMP, JCR Consulting, BBM Structural Engineers, and TLC Engineering for Architecture. The construction team includes Foresight Construction Group, and the commissioning agent is H2 Engineering.

“Our goal was to design welcoming facilities that represent the cultural fabric of today's students, while celebrating their past, present, and future," said Mike Lindsey, DLR Group designer and University of Florida alumnus.

In 1971, the Institute of Black Culture (IBC) was established after a series of peaceful protests from black students advocating for their rights ended with 66 students arrested or suspended for occupying the UF President’s office. Through the protests, 123 students withdrew from UF.

In 1994, Hispanic and Latino students at UF, growing in numbers on campus, petitioned for the space. For decades the IBC and La Casita served as a home away home for thousands of students. 

To learn more about the Institutes Project, please visit https://institutes.multicultural.ufl.edu

About Multicultural and Diversity Affairs

UF Multicultural & Diversity Affairs is a department within the Division of Student Affairs. It provides a wide range of services, educational opportunities, learning, support, outreach, activities and engagement for students. Through transformative educational experiences and developmental opportunities, Multicultural and Diversity Affairs celebrates and empowers diverse communities and advocates for an inclusive campus for all students across identities.

About DLR Group

DLR Group is an integrated design firm delivering architecture, engineering, interiors, planning, and building optimization for new construction, renovation, and adaptive reuse. Our promise is to elevate the human experience through design. This promise inspires sustainable design for a diverse group of public and private sector clients, local communities, and our planet. DLR Group is 100 percent employee-owned and fully supports the initiatives and goals of the 2030 Challenge, and is an initial signatory to the China Accord and the AIA 2030 Commitment.

About Foresight Construction Group, Inc.

Foresight Construction Group, Inc. provides construction services to government, institutional, healthcare and commercial clients throughout the Southeastern United States and Caribbean. Committed to simplifying the building experience, Foresight offers construction management, general contracting and design-build services across a wide range of projects that require the highest standards for operation. Foresight is headquartered in Gainesville, Fla., with additional offices in Jacksonville and Tampa. For more information, visit www.foresightcgi.com.

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