New Student Center concepts presented

    The architectural firm hired to renovate and expand Student Center presented a conceptual plan on Feb. 6 that included demolishing and reconstructing the General Store and Groundworks Books buildings to make room for new courtyard spaces.

    Jim Brown, of the San Diego-based architectural firm Public, presented his idea to the Building Advisory Committee of building two new courtyards ó one “”active,”” facing out toward the hump and filling up some of the space that would be freed by the demolition of the General Store Co-op, and one more quiet and “”passive,”” back toward Grove Caffe and Lot 113. About 12 parking spaces would be removed from Lot 113.

    Brown explained that the firm is currently in the detailed project programming phase, which is followed by actual design. While he presented a 3-D model, he asked the committee to think of it “”as a painting,”” dealing more with concepts than with detailed allocations of space.

    “”We’re trying to make one central place where people can stop, sit or gather, instead of kind of cruising and having the feeling that you don’t quite know where to stop,”” Brown said. “”So it’s a pretty bold move that we propose to take out the center building of this complex and to clear that area and connect it to the Hump Ö and to let the energy of the Hump flow into the center.””

    Brown’s plan has an expanded General Store moved to the area between Grove Caffe and the bike shop, taking a part of the area of the current Groundworks Books, and would face out onto the quieter courtyard. Groundworks Books would be reconstructed further south at the edge of that courtyard in a long rectangular shape, which Brown hoped would prove more useful in providing usable space than its current hexagon-like configuration.

    By removing the General Store, the Guardian offices immediately above it would also be demolished, which Brown proposed be relocated above the new General Store, making them adjacent to the second-floor student organization offices in the space currently occupied by a roof deck atop Groundworks Books.

    All other Student Center buildings would remain untouched, with the exception of an additional 200 square feet for the Lecture Notes/Soft Reserves building. A new office, with use as of yet undetermined, would also be built above the new Groundworks Books.

    While the General Store would get an extra 700 square feet, Groundworks will get none.

    “”I’d love to give everybody more square footage, but we have a very hard-line budget to meet,”” Brown said, adding that he had to stick to the legal limitations of the expansion referendum.

    He also proposed to plant more trees in the area provided by the removal of parking and constructing a “”skybridge”” walkway that would expand out from the second floor out toward the parking lot, but stop in the middle of the trees.

    Brown also proposed to eliminate the two-hour metered parking spots of Lot 113 spots and replace them with 30-minute spots to increase the flow of customers and decrease parking of Student Center employees.

    The committee did not come to any consensus on whether they approved of the two courtyards, and much of the discussion revolved around the reduction of parking.

    “”I personally think it would be wise to keep as much parking as possible,”” Earl Warren College representative Aaron Sheinbein said.

    A.S. Council representative Max Harrington said he has not made his mind up about the parking idea.

    “”From the outset of the project itself, there was a strongly negative reaction to any idea of removing parking at Student Center,”” Harrington said. “”Even so, I’m glad that the architects were bold enough to propose removing parking ó they probably knew that they would get a negative reaction to the idea, but I’m appreciative that we have architects that are independent enough to propose ideas that they know might not be popular with some on the committee.””

    The committee also discussed additional space for new student organization offices or for retail.

    BAC University Centers Advisory Board representative Jeremy Cogan, who in his position as A.S. commissioner of enterprises works with the Grove Caffe, expressed concern that allocating too much space to retail may increase competition between food enterprises in an area where the supply of customers is not as concentrated as in Price Center.

    BAC Co-Chair Justin Williams also pointed out that he saw little interest on the part of student organizations for moving into Student Center.

    “”My only concern is that currently with space requests about 80 percent of student orgs would rather have a Price Center office than a Student Center office,”” Williams said. “”However, the Student Center in Phase II [of expansion] is going to be a completely different place, so I really don’t know what requests will be like at that time.””

    Brown said he will gather more input on his proposal as he continues to work on the detailed project programming.

    “”I thought the plan they presented was a great start,”” Harrington said. “”I think the fact that there was so much immediate reaction and debate indicates just how intricate the design issues involved in the project are. I felt sorry for the poor architects, however ó they work so hard at presenting a plan, and it felt like they received almost nothing but criticism and caution Ö Regardless, however, the coming debate will be very interesting and I’m looking forward to participating in it.””

    The scheme Public is working with, which was approved by the BAC on Dec. 5, 2003, will cost $7 million and will add 2,700 gross square feet.

    The next BAC meeting, which will be held on Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. in the Paul DeWine Student Leadership Chambers, will be used to collect and review comments on Public’s detailed project programming draft.

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