CHICAGO (CBS) — After more than a century without a dedicated student center, Columbia College broke ground Monday on a shining $50 million facility in the South Loop.

Columbia College President Kwang-Wu Kim led off the groundbreaking for the five-story, 114,000-square foot modern glass building at 8th and Wabash. It would be the first student center in the college’s 127-year history.

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“Since my arrival here 4 ½ years ago, this has been probably the number one topic that I’ve heard from students; the dream of a place where students could be together,” he said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended the ground-breaking, and said the outer beauty of the student center will match what goes on inside.

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“It will create an environment that is conducive to imagination, to collaboration, and to working together, “he said. “This is a great day; and I will say, after 127 years, it’s time is due.”

The building was designed by the Chicago office of architecture firm Gensler, after participation and input from students. It will include dance studios, analog and digital maker labs, an 800-person event space, study lofts, a fitness center, and a dining area.

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The student center is expected to be completed late next year.