University of Miami’s Hillel Student Center is undergoing a $3 million facelift. The building, which is deemed a historical building in Coral Gables, is set to open in next fall.
The state-of-the art center — which was built in 1953 at 1100 Stanford Dr., on U.S. 1 — will include a new lobby and offices, chapel and worship areas, a Kosher café, study and entertainment spaces and a rooftop lounge with balcony and outdoor garden.
The 12,000 square foot building will be expanded by about 4,000 square feet, while adding a third story. The exterior walls of the building will remain standing, and all the interior walls will be demolished.
The project broke ground on Oct. 15. Once finished, the center will be renamed the Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life in honor of the two local families whose gifts made this renovation possible. The new center is expected to serve more than 2,000 Jewish and non-Jewish students.
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“We’re honored that we were selected to deliver this project,” said Amicon’s President John Wood, the construction company in charge of the renovation. “It’s going to be a landmark. Everyone is going to see it. We won’t take that lightly.”
Wood said that architects came up with a “modern design and many inspirational spaces,” along with “semi-modular wall systems, which allow for the conference rooms and spaces to transform according to the event.”
Wood added that the design will include lots of hurricane proof glass walls with a clean design and lots of whites and grays.”
“This will allow for more light. The old space was a little bit dark, I think,” he said.
Sara Greene, the assistant director of development for the Hillel Center, said the center will be a “home away from home” for students on campus.
"It's going to be a great place for students to do school work, socialize and learn,” Greene said. “It’s gong to be a beautiful building.”
About 15 percent of students at UM are Jewish, according to Hillel Center staff, but the center welcomes non-Jews.
“Hillel welcomes any non Jewish students who want to celebrate Jewish life with us,” Greene said.
UM Hillel is the foundation for Jewish life on campus. The center’s mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish students at the university. They strive to “inspire every Jewish student to make a meaningful and enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel,” according to their website.
The Hillel Center has temporarily been moved to another building on the outskirts of campus. But Greene said it’s worth the wait.
“When the students have a new place, the energy is going to be amazing,” Greene said. “Right now, we’re Hillel W.O.W—‘Hillel without walls.’ But next year, to have walls and to have a home, is going to be a wonderful feeling.”
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