W.R. Davies Student Center is the center for social and cultural interaction on the lower campus. Offering a number of meeting and program spaces, dining facilities and service areas, Davies Center is the administrative core of the University Centers. It is also home to the Student Senate, the primary vehicle for student involvement in university governance.
The new Davies Center opened its doors in July 2012. Past, present and future students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are paying for their new student center through segregated fees assessed since 2000. The new student center, like its predecessor, is named in memory of William R. Davies (1893–1959), the university’s second president.
On the north the new student center is bordered by the Little Niagara Creek, which has been incorporated into the landscape of the Central Campus Mall. Immediately south is the 230-acre Putnam Park, acquired by the university in 1957 under the Davies administration.
Davies Center occupies a site that was the historic meeting grounds of the Dakota and Ojibwe people, who made peace in the 1850s after a bitter war that spanned 150 years.
The treaty line is thought to be at the mouth of the Little Niagara Creek on the Chippewa River. Names of meeting spaces in the original and the present Davies Center honor the Ojibwe and Dakota and other native people of Wisconsin, including the Ho-Chunk, Menominee and Potawatomi tribal members who used the Council Oak tree and its surroundings as a shelter and gathering place. Davies Center was planned as an expression of the role of the Council Oak, a beacon and symbol of community, gathering and a safe space for all.
In keeping with UW-Eau Claire’s strategic goals of stewardship and sustainability, the new Davies Center incorporates eco-friendly elements including a green roof and sustainability standards designed to consume 30 percent less energy than current codes require.
The approximately 170,000-square-foot student center was designed by Stantec and the Wisconsin-based firm Bray Architects. Inspired by nature surrounding the Eau Claire campus — the Chippewa River, the woods, the stone formations, the Little Niagara Creek — the canoe shaped building points towards the river.
Construction of the new Davies Center began March 7, 2011, and was completed in 2013. Kraemer Brothers, LLC, of Plain, Wisconsin, was the single prime contractor for the project.
Smoking is prohibited on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus except in designated areas and on city-owned streets that run through campus. Davies Center and its terraces are smoke-free; smoking is permitted only at the loading dock southwest of the building.
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