USM Union Plaza Renovation


Neel-Schaffer creates new look for popular tailgating plaza

Neel-Schaffer provided engineering design and CE&I services for a $2.3
million project to renovate the Union Plaza area on the University of Southern
Mississippi campus in Hattiesburg.

The plaza, which sits between the student union building and the west side
of M.M. Roberts Stadium, was built in the 1960s and was comprised mainly of
concrete surrounding five majestic oak trees. The pedestrian area is used daily
by students and on football Saturday’s by USM fans as a gathering place prior to
football games.

The renovations designed by Neel-Schaffer included removing the existing
concrete and replacing it with a variety of amenities, including colored and scored
concrete, new landscaped beds with a variety of shrub/tree/groundcovers, two
wooden decks overlooking the site, a plaza area at the entrance to the student
union that includes seat walls, a brick retaining wall with text from USM’s Alma
Mater, a raised concrete stage for concerts/speeches/assemblies, railings for
accessibility, a bike canopy with the USM logo, and a paver art logo at ground level
of the official University eagle logo.

The project included removable bollards, new irrigation and lighting, a retaining
wall and 25-foot by 25-foot athletic banners that hang on the side of the football
stadium facing the plaza.

Another feature of the project is that a portion of the new colored and scored
concrete is “heavy duty” concrete. That area is now designated for large TV trucks
to park with their equipment during televised football games at Roberts Stadium.
Future plans call for the addition of a 911 Memorial at the Freedom Circle area
seat walls.

Neel-Schaffer began the conceptual design phase of this project in November
2016. The design phase began in November 2018. Construction began in Spring
2020 and was completed in August 2020.

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