As a preeminent university, the University of Florida is the only university in the Southeast with two dedicated spaces for each under-represented populations of African American and Hispanic-Latino

American students. In addition to the newly opened Black Enrichment Center and Hispanic-Latino Engagement Center located in the J. Wayne Reitz Union, the Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures are the original dedicated spaces for Black and Hispanic-Latino students at UF.

In the summer of 1954, the University of Florida purchased two white frame buildings at 1510 and 1504 West University Avenue and turned them over to the Dept. of Housing to manage. 1504 was first used as a fraternity space where 17 men lived in the house which was known as The King’s House. Then the house became the International Center that helped students with visas and adjusting to life in the U.S. as well as at UF. This space has also housed the UF English Department.

In the wake of student protests, university administration established the Institute of Black Culture (IBC) in the fall of 1971. The IBC was officially dedicated on February 11, 1972.

In 1994, Hispanic and Latino students at UF, growing in numbers on campus petitioned for space. In May 1994, the house was dedicated as the Institute for Hispanic-Latino Cultures (La Casita).

The Institutes play a significant role in the lives and development of the underrepresented students here at the University of Florida, by serving as hubs for students to congregate before, in between, and after classes. With more than 75 student ambassadors and 6 professional staff, the Institutes are home to the logistical, supportive, and empowering work that serves UF students. The Institutes are also very popular spaces for student and community organization to host events, programs, and trainings.

Both of the existing facilities have major issues. The problems range from humidity and mold issues, termites, wood rot and decay, structural issues, and air and water intrusion. Environmental Health and Safety has documented that the Institutes cannot continue using these facilities as they are because of fire and space codes. As our student population grows, so does the demand and use of these facilities. Larger, more functional spaces are needed to continue to provide excellence in programming to students.
Though the facilities are not included on the registry of historical buildings, this project seeks to pay homage to their cultural significance on our campus. Through building details mirroring the existing structures to storytelling pieces within the Institutes from alums and UF historians, each Institutes’ unique cultural history will be preserved in the new facilities.
The revitalization of the two cultural Institutes is a $5+ million project. Support for this initiative comes from the Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CITF) and from generous private support. To learn more about how you can contribute, please visit.
We hope to begin construction in fall 2017.
Yes. There will be two separate structures, the Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, that will be connected by a bridge in the back for shared elevator access.
The new facilities will encompass and preserve the Institutes’ historical design (porches, etc), while providing functional space. The project include approximately 12,000 GSF. The new facilities will include assembly, office, recreational and other support spaces. ADA restrooms and an elevator will also be included.
Yes. The new Institutes will be far more energy efficient than the existing facilities. Ensuring GOLD LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council is mandatory for this project.
As always, all students are welcome to use the Institutes. The new facilities will expand the programmatic footprint and opportunities for students to use the spaces.
Throughout the fall 2016 and spring 2017 semesters there will be opportunities to provide input on the design, goals, and even the furniture in the new Institutes. This Website will continue to be updated with the project timeline, but please follow us on social media for update information, events and polls.

Click here to join the discussion on Facebook.



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