This past weekend, students, alumni, faculty and staff of the University of Florida celebrated the reopening of La Casita and the Institute of Black Culture on the same lots, 1510 and 1504 University Avenue, that they stood on in 1971.
“it’s very important to have the buildings on campus so that student can know their history and know that they have a future as well,” said Betty Stewart-Fullwood, a retired UF professor.
Several speeches were made before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, all of which were centered around the theme of gratitude.
“Getting to be at the grand opening, getting to see the building, has just been incredible,” said Evan Curry, a UF student. “Honestly, I was dancing inside. I was literally out here dancing and singing. It’s been a great experience.”
The university invested $10 million to modernize the Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures. In the buildings, there are study areas, rooms for meetings, offices, event space, a lounge area and a living room with a balcony.
In the Institute of Black Culture, there is a beacon with a light that reminds black students their legacy is what makes the campus light up.
The architects for the project came from the DLR Group in Orlando. However, the ideas for the designs came from student-collaboration and workshops held by the DLR Group for students.
“The most important part of this process was focusing on transparency and including as many voices as possible,” said Will Atkins, the associate dean of students.
The final look is a pair of modern buildings with unique touches that honor history.
Though the project took longer than expected, visitors can now say the process was delayed, but never denied.