University Student Commons & Activities

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Commons' History


Until 1976, the Office of Student Activities was located in the Milhiser House on Franklin Street. The office was later moved to 901 Floyd Avenue, in what is now Sitterding House, while plans were made for a new facility.

Architects model for proposed Student Center in 1976

The original design which was twice the size of the building that was built and opened in 1984, and was approved in 1975 at a cost of $7.7 million. The projected completion date was August 1977.

Student Center Model, 1976

Architects sketch of University Student Commons that opened in 1984
When economic factors made funding plans difficult, building construction was postponed. A similar building was proposed and approved in 1977 and opened in 1984, after 10 years of planning and lobbying by students, faculty and administrators. Ironically, the current proposal for the addition of Phase 3 will bring the building almost exactly to the square footage proposed in 1975.


Commons Opens on January 17, 1984. It is 69,135 gross square feet and features a large staircase, glass atrium, 350 seat theater and modern architecture. Click on images below to see the original floor plan for the University Student Commons.


Construction for Phase II of the Commons begins with a ground breaking on March 18, 1991. The Commons is in the center of a controversy on campus over losing green space.


Phase II opens on January 19th. Dancers from the VCU Dance department lead students, faculty, staff and guests through a wall of colorful ribbons into the new 39,000 square foot addition. The Commons is now 120,313 square feet total.


Planning begins on a second addition to the Commons as the VCU student population grows to over 25,000. The Commons Phase 3 project is fully underway.


On May 28, groundbreaking ceremonies lead by Dr. Eugene P. Trani officially began the Phase 3 renovation and construction project. Dr. Trani used the same shovel to this groundbreaking as he had in 1991 for Phase II.


In January, The Commons celebrated its 20th anniversary with the opening of the renovated food court and a celebration before the completion of Phase 3. The Phase 3 Grand Opening Celebration took place over three days April 15-17. Dr. Trani cuts the symbolic ribbon as the newest addition if formally dedicated.