Howard University will dedicate its new $10 million Armour J. Blackburn University Center, the second largest building on campus, in ceremonies scheduled for noon Friday.
Named after the late dean of students at Howard from 1949 to 1969, the Blackburn Center looks out on the McMillan reservoir on the east and the main quadrangle on the west with a fountain and reflecting pool in the foreground.
The four-level, 126,000-square-foot building will accommodate a variety of recreational, dining and educational uses and is intended to "bring the campus community closer together," said Carl E. Anderson, vice president for student affairs at Howard.
"Before, there was no central place where members of the entire university community could just go to relax," he said. "This new building will be a focal point of campus life."
Built with salmon-colored brick, precast concrete and broad expanses of glass, the building will have three dining facilities-a 468-seat cafeteria, a full-service restaurant and a snack bar.
It also has an 80-by-140-foot penthouse ballroom which can hold 1,500 people. It has lounges and meeting rooms including a 132-seat auditorium and a 76-seat, semicircular forum, a 12-lane bowling alley and a campus store. There are rooms for billiards, ping pong, electronic and table games, photography, poster-making and music and offices for student organizations and publications.
Construction of the building began 2 1/2 years ago, but planning started in 1961 when Blackburn appointed a committee of students and faculty members to offer ideas about what should be included in such a center and what it should look like.
A native of Danville, Va., Blackburn received his bachelor's degree from Howard in 1926, and served in various faculty and staff positions at the university for 30 years. He died in 1970.