Risman Plaza, library renovations signal campus-wide makeover

Nick Glunt

A tall fence, a great ocean of dirt and a team of heavy machinery stand between the Student Center and the University Library, where a bustling plaza and tall concrete fountain existed just a month ago.

Though many students aren’t in Kent to see it, the renovations in Risman Plaza have begun.

The construction is part of the university’s campus-wide $200 million renovation plan, University Architect Michael Bruder said.

“We’ve just about finished the transit shelter, which is essentially a bus stop,” Director of Design and Construction Michael Bruder said. “It was about halfway done when students left.”

Students and visitors to the campus yesterday watched as the old bus stop was torn down with a crane and other heavy machinery.

Aside from the bus stop, the other renovations in Risman Plaza have begun as well. There’s currently no pavement in the plaza, just bare earth. The plaza’s well-known fountain has been torn down as well.

“We plan to have everything done for homecoming weekend,” Bruder said. “We’re in pretty good shape. There were a few hiccups along the way, but we’re going good.”

Construction has also begun on the first floor of the library. Part of the first floor, including the main entrance, has been blocked off. Patrons and employees must currently use a newly installed side door to enter the building. The circulation desk has been temporarily moved to another location on the first floor of the library for the summer.

Bruder said the construction in the plaza is expected to cost $2.8 million, while the library’s first floor renovations are expected to cost $1.1 million.

“We should stay within the original budget,” he said.

Despite the possible inconvenience the construction could cause, library employees are supportive. It doesn’t seem to be affecting the library’s regular summer patronage.

“It’s not really a problem,” said Library Associate Adam Steele. “People still need to come to the library. I had dozens of people here yesterday, and it was a Sunday.”

Another library associate, Jason Prufer, was very supportive of the library’s renovations.

“Everybody knows it’s for the better,” Prufer said. “If we let the library look like it was still in the ‘70s, I don’t think anybody would be happy.”

To keep pedestrians from the construction, the university set up alternate routes around the plaza, Bruder said.

“To get to class, you have to kind of take paths around it,” senior business management major Ben Krajcer said. “But it’s not terrible. It definitely needed the renovation. The stone and everything was really outdated. It just happens that I won’t be here when it’s finished.”

Not everybody is happy about the renovations, though. Some students, like sophomore accounting major Michael Lopeman, think the construction makes for too much of a hassle.

“I don’t see why they had to ruin a perfectly good fountain,” Lopeman said.

Contact administration reporter Nick Glunt at [email protected].