The Boston University Castle and Pub will be turned into a new on-campus alumni center next year, according to Vice President for Alumni Relations Steve Hall.
The new alumni center will be the first one on campus in more than 50 years, Hall said, and it will offer a space for alumni and current members of the BU community to gather and interact.
“I think there’s tremendous synergy, being located right next to the visitors’ admissions center,” Hall said of the Castle. “Prospective students and their parents will begin their Boston University adventure right next door to the alumni center, which I think speaks to the importance of the alumni network and the alumni’s connection to the institution.”
The changes being made to the Castle and the Pub will make it handicap-accessible and more accommodating for larger crowds. A larger kitchen will be added to expand the menu, and the terrace in the back will be made into a solarium that can be used throughout the year, Hall said.
The construction will begin shortly after commencement weekend in May and will end next spring, meaning the Pub will be closed for a full year, Hall said. Regarding the Pub’s closure, he said any backlash was quelled after the renovation plans were announced.
“We [received] a lot of questions,” Hall said. “But as soon as we said the Pub’s going to be better, it’s going to be bigger, I think that allayed all of the fears that people may have had. It will be an inconvenience for the next year, but certainly our hope is that it will be worth the wait.”
Carlos Garcia, a Pub employee, said the only backlash he has heard are concerns that people will not being able to finish the Knight’s Quest, a challenge in which one has to drink all 50 beers the Pub offers at some point in order to be knighted in a ceremony.
“There’s people who have been doing that this whole semester and now they’re like, ‘Oh I’m not going to be able to finish in this semester,’” Garcia, a junior in the College of Communication, said. “Or if they’re seniors or juniors they’re like, ‘Oh now I’m never going to be able to finish because it’s going to be closed, so I’m never going to have that experience.’”
Garcia, who said he will probably continue working in BU Dining Services, said the Knight’s Quest challenge will be moved to Cornwall’s in Kenmore while the BU Pub is closed.
The renovations will cost the university around $9 million, according to Hall, $5 million of which have already been raised by the BU Alumni Association. A separate crowdfunding effort has been started to raise $10,000 and allow more donors to participate.
“The $10,000 isn’t going to make or break the project,” Hall said. “But, I think it’s important symbolism. It’s a good opportunity for young alumni to participate at a level that makes sense for them.”
The last event at the Castle this year will be a “Sabbatical Celebration” on May 4.
The celebration will be “a social gathering,” Hall said. “It’s a chance for both current members of the university community and alumni to want to come back and celebrate what the old Pub was and anticipate what the new Pub will be.”
Several students said they have mixed feelings about the renovation of the BU Castle and Pub.
Max Kaplan, a second-year graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he thinks the renovation will make money for the university in the long run, but it does not benefit anyone right now.
“In some ways, [the alumni] are important because those are the moneymakers,” Kaplan said. “[The renovation] is a tool. It’s good for the university, [but] I don’t think that there is a universal good in this situation.”
Andrew Moeller, a junior in the School of Education, said he likes the fact that the Castle is going to be renovated, but said he’s upset he will not have the opportunity to enjoy the Pub next year.
“I like that they’re making it more accessible,” Moeller said. “It’s nice that I got to experience the BU Pub a little bit, but if it’s closed all next year, then that’s my whole senior year that I won’t be able to go to the Pub, which kind of sucks.”
Brittany Kamson, a senior in the Questrom School of Business, said she thinks a new alumni center will benefit the university.
“I think it’s cool,” Kamson said. “I work at the Telefund, so I reach out to alumni all the time, and I think it’s really good to have that connection because you can network with them and whatnot, and they’re people who went to BU, so they’re nice, they’re friendly, they’re fun.”
CORRECTIONS: In an earlier version of this article, the headline made it seem like the BU Castle and Pub were to close indefinitely. The Pub will close for one year as the Castle is renovated to become an alumni center. A quote from Steve Hall, when talking about student’s concerns about the Pub closing, said, “I think that aligned all of the fears,” rather than “I think that allayed all of the fears” Also, the caption for the photo used was corrected to say December 2016, rather than Dec. 2016.