May 4 Visitors Center expansion to occupy digital commons lab

Lindsay Ridinger

Students making alternative proposal

One year after its opening last fall, the College of Architecture’s digital commons computer lab in Taylor Hall has been allocated for expansion of the future May 4 Visitors Center.

For his environmental technology class, fourth-year architecture major Mike Turk has utilized the virtual environment analysis programs installed on the computers in the lab.

“Those computers have almost every single one of the programs that we need to do homework and projects for our environmental technology classes, studio classes and, of course, for the computer classes,” Turk said.

English professor Laura Davis, who is working with the visitors center committee, said its opening date has not yet been established, but the project is in the design phase now.

“The construction schedule will not be set until funding sources are identified,” Davis said.

The project will receive external funding through grants, donors and financial funds. The fundraising campaign began last week as part of Kent State’s Centennial Celebration festivities.

Davis said the extra space in the center will house more information and interactive displays about the May 4 shootings.

“There will be a few representative artifacts,” Davis said, “but mostly it will be media that provides information of three types: information about the historical context, about the events that happened here May 1 through 4 in 1970 and then the impact of those events and their meaning for today.”

As proposed, the center will take up about 1,800 square feet, Davis said. This space includes the former Daily Kent Stater office located in the corner of Taylor Hall near the May 4 memorial, as well as the computer lab, which is about the size of a small classroom.ÿ

Students’ views

Throughout their time at Kent State, Turk said College of Architecture students create design plans for the May 4 Memorial expansion that does not necessarily have to be built within Taylor Hall. He said there are a lot of ideas sitting in the archives that could become useful in this situation.

Turk, also the Undergraduate Student Government senator for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and 11 architecture students attended the May 4 Task Force meeting on Oct. 8. Turk led the group in proposing an alternative plan for reconsidering the space allocated for the May 4 Visitors Center expansion.

Stressing the lack of available space in Taylor Hall and the fact that architecture students are already using three different buildings (Taylor Hall, the Gym Annex and Tri-Towers), Turk shared the proposal with the May 4 Task Force. He suggested using the offices along the back of Taylor Hall, facing the May 4 Memorial field, to utilize the large windows for displays.

Alan Canfora, director of the Kent May 4 Center and one of those injured in the shootings, said the decision is ultimately up to Davis, but he gave no objection to the alternate proposal. Task force members also shared general approval for the students’ ideas.

Julie Whyte, fourth-year architecture major, contacted Davis about the meeting, but Davis did not attend.

“Just using the office space (in Taylor Hall) would benefit the May 4 Visitors Center,” Whyte said.

The task force was very responsive to the proposal, he said, adding that the response was a pleasant surprise.

Whyte said those fourth-year majors who attended the meeting showed how much “we care about the College (of Architecture).”

Importance of the lab

Turk said the computers in the lab are connected to printers, plotters and scanners that architecture and interior design majors particularly need to use for class. He said he hopes the computer lab is moved to another location in Taylor Hall to make the process easier for these students.

“We are architecture students,” Turk said.

“We realize how difficult and impractical it is to relocate not only the computers and tables . but also setting up the networking cables,” adding the technology needs to be located near the computer lab.

Before the new lab was completed, Turk said an older lab existed to help students with projects. The computers and machines, however, were outdated.

Turk said at the time it was more practical to establish a new facility rather than upgrade the old computers. The old computer lab, which still resides on the third floor of Taylor Hall, is no longer open as often because its machines are not as useful as the newer ones.

“Most of the time the (new) computer lab is filled to the brim,” Turk said, explaining students work there independently and during class. Architecture and interior design students have key cards to gain access to the room when they have time to work on a project, and each student has a personal folder in the network to save their files.

Although their proposal is in the process of being finalized, Whyte said architecture students are trying to get a graphic plan ready for review under the May 4 Initiative and the May 4 Task Force.

Contact College of Technology reporter Lindsay Ridinger at [email protected].