Construction improves Student Center

Valerie Maczak

The Student Center is opening a new door in its history — a front door, in fact.

“For years we’ve heard people complain that the Student Center, a main hub of campus activity, had its back to the university,” said Tom Euclide, director of architecture and engineering at Kent State.

Not only did the absence of a north entrance create a sense of isolation, it made entering the Student Center inconvenient, said Jon Harper, assistant director of the Student Center.

“We have a lot of doors, but they are all on the south side,” Harper said. “People have to walk all the way around and it was confusing for visitors.”

A loading dock modification coinciding with the new “front door” will also make deliveries and other back-of-house functions easier for Student Center employees, said Beth Ruffing, associate architect for Kent State and project manager for the Student Center construction.

“The Student Center previously had two loading docks that were built more than 30 years ago when trucks were smaller,” Ruffing said. “The new plan incorporates three larger docks at the first-floor level to accommodate today’s semi-trucks and allows a more direct routing for truck traffic.”

The new design makes it easier and safer for truck drivers to see around the building, Ruffing said. It also creates new parking spaces and sidewalks.

“The expected increase in traffic made pedestrian safety a major design factor,” Ruffing said. “Our hope is that students and staff use the new sidewalks to keep them out of traffic’s way.”

The new steps and ramp leading into the Student Center will also incorporate safety.

“We are installing a snow melting system in the steps and the ramp way to ensure everyone’s safety during the winter,” Ruffing said.

Ultimately though, the renovation is about making the Student Center more appealing and accessible, Ruffing said.

“We wanted a bright and safe design to mirror some of the other improvements we’ve made on campus,” Ruffing said. The design harmonizes with the campus environment, but will be unique to the Student Center.

The construction is on schedule and the new door should be available for use prior to the start of fall classes.

The loading dock modification completion date is set for early fall, Ruffing said. In the meantime, the building has a temporary dock to receive deliveries in preparation for the Fall semester.

“It may be a little awkward for a couple of weeks, but the end result should make the trouble worth it,” Ruffing said.

Harper agreed. “It’s been an adventure to have the construction crews right outside my window for the summer, but we’re so excited about the improvements that I don’t mind,” he said.

The front door installation and the loading dock modifications are the third and fourth parts of a five-phase Student Center improvement plan, Tom Euclide said.

“The improvement plan began in Summer 2004 with the Hub renovation, followed by upgrades in the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems,” Euclide said. “We are now focusing on the third and fourth phases, and the project will culminate in renovation of the second-floor ballroom in Summer 2006.”

The entire five-phase project’s budget totals $8.5 million.

Contact building and grounds reporter Valerie Maczak at [email protected].