Editor’s Note: We’re trying to get sketch-ups of the New South Student Center. Check back later for an update.
Georgetown administrators held an open meeting yesterday to solicit student input on the proposed New South Student Center. A student center in the area currently occupied by Riverside Lounge has been in the works for almost a decade.
The project would be finished by fall 2014, at the earliest. Administrators expect to cover the estimated $15 million bill using money from this fall’s capital campaign. Bill Ash of the Smith Group, the architecture firm contracted for the project, presented a proposal for the center based on feedback from the 1999 and 2010 Reports on Student Space and a 2004 feasibility study.
In that vein, Ash developed his plan around the idea of “student consumerism.” He explained this to mean that “you [students] want access to a variety of different things” in a one-stop shop of student services.
Alex Pon (COL ’12), CEO of the Corp, warned Ash against placing too many vendors in the students center, citing that vendors in Leavey primarily cater to non-students. Meanwhile, Olson and Ash were set on having a restaurant-type business in New South despite alternative, overlapping proposals.
After entering the center at Tondorf Road and Library Walk (across from Leo’s), an information desk and computer lounge will greet students. GUSA Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) thought that the information desk could provide useful guidance about on campus activities, as well as a good place to end admissions tours. However, Pon questioned who would pay and train students to sit there and answer questions. Students were also skeptical about the usefulness of a computer lounge
This foyer will then funnel into a hallway, off of which will branch the restaurant, multipurpose room, and game room. After moving through the game room, the hallway would continue past the windows facing the river and open into a 1350 sq. ft. “living room,” adjacent to which will be coffee shop and work areas for student groups. By comparison, Bulldog Alley is around 1850 sq. ft., according to Director for Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr.
Function over form
Students at the meeting were not particularly receptive to the idea of a “living room,” preferring functional space over anything else.
“We theoretically have the Alumni Lounge,” Pon cautioned. “And no one goes there.” Pon also worried that the center’s layout would make the it another glorified hallway, similar to Sellinger.
Adam Talbot (COL ’12) mused that, after losing spaces such as Healy basement and Sellinger Lounge, the student body was mostly “desperate and pragmatic” when it came to space. Other participants, most of whom were club and organization leaders, generally wanted more meeting rooms for their groups, modular furniture, and storage space that might alleviate overflowing SAC closets.
Although there was general consensus that reservable meeting rooms similar to the break-out rooms in Hariri would be useful, the room was divided and confused by Ash’s proposed “shared workspace.”
The larger workspace, which would have desks and filing cabinets, could be used by small groups or large groups to work. Participants were concerned that the space would be too similar to Lau 2 and that there would be noise pollution from multiple groups in one space.
GUSA Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) countered that many students just want hang-out space.
As the forum came to a close, the architect agreed to scrap the computer lab in favor of computer and printer stations, but he didn’t indicate what he would do with respect to other concerns. The Center for Student Programs promised to another student forum in two weeks on the New South Student Center and the future use of the Leavey Center. There are also plans for a Welcome Week town hall on the issue.