GUSA members, administrators, students and representatives of architecture firm ikon.5 met Monday evening for an interactive planning for the Healey Family Student Center, slated to open in New South Hall in fall 2014.

Design principal for ikon.5 Joseph Tattoni and the university architect team presented the proposed layout of the student center, which will involve internal and external reconstruction of the ground floors of New South.

Externally, construction will create new entrances at the building’s northwest corner and the north courtyard and will necessitate revamped landscaping outside of the south entrance. In addition, the renovation will replace the existing brick with glass panels at the building’s east entrance to increase transparency.

“We want to reconnect the campus back to the river,” Tattoni said.

The new student center will also be completely accessible to disabled individuals, thanks to the addition of an elevator to the building’s west side and a promenade to the south side.

The lower level of the student center will serve the building’s administrative needs. Truck deliveries, security guard and traffic control will move to a service drive under the outdoor terrace.

“This is where trash dumping and storage will occur,” Tattoni said. “The lower level is not a very sexy plan.”

On the interior, the student center’s ground level will be organized around a central space resembling a living room that will include seating areas, a raised stage with a piano and projector and a central hearth fireplace. Other areas on the ground floor include a TV lounge, open workspaces with TV displays and glass wall paneling and a multipurpose room for events.

The first floor will hold practice rooms, dance studios and possibly an interactive media wall featuring content from student organizations. Center for Student Programs Director Erika Cohen Derr said that university officials were still debating whether to allow student organizations to personalize the wall.

“The east lobby is an opportunity to be more creative because it is a more intimate space,” Cohen Derrsaid. “We are working through this decision because it takes commitment to see if it will succeed or not.”

Student feedback centered on the architectural design and the pub-style restaurant’s seating and decor.

“Everything that the students have been saying has been constructive,” Tattoni said. “The comments today were more informative about how to enhance the space and make it more useful.”

Tattoni encouraged further community involvement in the next stages of planning, adding that the planning committee would hold one or two more events regarding furniture and other details.

GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff Chandini Jha (COL ’16) agreed on the practicality of the interactive setting.

“I just appreciate that we’re having a forum to discuss this because it is really important to have student opinion involved,” Jha said. “The architects did a really good job of designing a space that we need on campus, which is for students to socialize and hang out … and I also really appreciate the environmental initiatives they presented.”

Though the plans remain in the developmental document stage, Tattoni said that he was hopeful that construction will begin this summer.

“We have another four months or so of development of the documents,” Tattoni said. “That’s all very good. That means a lot of exciting things will be happening this summer.”

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