By Bryan Betts, Editor-in-Chief
Construction on the dining hall parking lot is adding parking spots and creating space for delivery trucks to circle around and back up to the dining hall’s loading dock.
Work began mid-December and should be finished around Mar. 1, depending on weather conditions. However, Scot Sherman, Director of Campus Planning for Facilities Services, said the lot should be usable within a few weeks.
“Sorry for the inconvenience, but we’ll try to make it as quick as we can,” he said.
The university identified the parking lot for replacement because delivery trucks were having trouble getting in and out of the cramped lot. On one occasion, a truck backed into a brick column, raising safety concerns.
Additional problems included that dining hall staff did not have enough parking spots, the condition of the lot had deteriorated, and several adjacent trees had grown too large.
Sherman said the university has been seeking to replace the parking lot since 2010 but needed to make sure other building projects would not interfere with construction before proceeding.
Construction is taking place during the spring term because it allowed work to began in December while students were away and the dining hall was closed. The dining hall remains open during the summer months for May Experience and summer camps.
Though the lot is fenced off, the construction schedule allows trucks to make deliveries a few days each week.
Staff parking has been temporarily relocated to the lawn behind Lakeside Housing. The dining hall’s north entrance is closed during construction so students must enter the dining hall through the main entrance or from the rose garden.
The section of the walkway between the dining hall and lake is also closed.
Trone Student Center
Last semester, construction on the Trone Student Center forced students to enter the through the first floor and made the building less a student center and more an inconvenient stopover for student business. Now that the second phase of renovations are nearing completion, that situation appears set to change.
Students returning from winter break can now walk through the building’s front entrance to the newly completed Hill Atrium, a large, open hall featuring tables, couches, a fireplace, and the student information center.
The atrium’s most prominent feature is a “video wall” on the left as you enter through the front door. The wall is essentially a giant television screen made by joining four 55 inch flatscreen televisions edge to edge, and it is central to the university’s hopes for the space.
“The idea is a gathering place, bringing people together and giving them a place to hangout,” said Scott Derrick, Director of the Trone Student Center.
Derrick said students have responded positively to the atrium. Sophomore Brian Weaver spoke of the finsihed construction in terms that echoed the university’s stated intentions for the space.
“I like the design of it; it’s very open,” he said. “It seems like a popular place for students to gather.”
Derrick emphasized that the atrium was not designed primarily as a study spot though students are welcome to study there. He mentioned hearing of one student who was attempting to study in the atrium and asked the information center to turn down the volume on the video wall.
Renovations to the building’s office suites are also complete. Study Away and International Education, Undergraduate Research and Internships, and Career Services have settled into their new offices across from the Watkins Room. The Division of Student Life, the Center for Vocational Reflection, and the Shucker Center for Leadership Development have moved into the new North Wing.
Exterior furniture will go on the building’s porches later in the semester when the weather warms up.
Renovations to the first floor of the Trone Student Center are scheduled to begin in May. Renderings are still pending, but the basic plan is to revamp and reconfigure the Paladen serving area. Digital Express will move to another location to open up to improve traffic flow through the Paladen.
A sit-down restaurant in the style of a contemporary English pub will also go in downstairs. Aramark will operate the establishment, but whether the pub will serve alcoholic beverages is still up in the air as it requires the approval of the Board of Trustees.