Administrators presented preliminary concept renderings to ASG Wednesday night for a new student center that would make a number of changes to the existing Norris University Center site. The new building will feature glass paneling, improved pedestrian walkways and almost double Norris's square footage.
“We really tried to focus our efforts on what it is our community says that they want,” said Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president for Student Auxiliary Services, who delivered the presentation with Norris executive director Kelly Schaefer. They played a video that rendered the proposed building in 3D, while stopping to take multiple vantage points of the exterior and a more detailed map of each floor.
After gaining input from over 5,500 students, faculty and staff and researching student centers at peer institutions, the committee worked with an architectural firm to design a space that optimized the needs gathered during the research period.
The new building would be more “permeable,” Payne-Kirchmeier said. Most visibly, a bridge would be constructed to connect the new student center and the library. The rendering moves the loading dock underground, which would increase accessibility from the south and connect the center to Arts Circle Drive.
The center would consolidate student services, including University Career Services, in a convenient, central location. The bookstore would increase to a two-story space, more student lounge space would be added, and a new conference room would seat up to 800 people. The design features two performance spaces, more dining services and even a sports bar.
Kirchmeier said that the building could be realized in as soon as four to six years, but that a number of projects must be completed first. The university’s ability to fundraise and allocate money to the project will determine if a new center can be realized and what amenities it would have.
“We’ve already gotten permission from [President Schapiro] to form a building program committee,” Kirchmeier said. “We have a placeholder in the capital campaign associated with student life…and we’ve already presented to the Student Life Committee of the Board of Trustees. The [Board of Trustees] have already seen it, and they already like it.”
After Friday’s ASG elections, the Student Center Initiative will be relaunched online and include opportunities for student feedback and the concept video that Kirchmeier and Schaefer presented to ASG Wednesday.
Additionally, Senate passed a resolution to commemorate the Boston Marathon bombings, provide information about charitable efforts to students and encourage students to seek out mental health services if necessary. The bill, proposed by Rainbow Alliance senator Petros Karahalios, passed unanimously after little debate.
ASG also passed legislation to support Congressional passage of the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act. The resolution was sponsored by senators of IFC and PHA. The act, currently being debated by Congress, would make it easier for not-for-profit groups to fund improvements in housing owned by outside groups, such as Greek houses.
It was the last full Senate meeting for ASG President Victor Shao and Executive Vice President Brad Stewart. They opened the meeting by reporting ASG’s accomplishments over the past year.
Editor's note: For clarification, the bookstore is planned to expand while still keeping its current two-story structure.