Faculty, staff debate use of new space outside L Building

This is the area that will be transformed ino a new student space – for studying, relaxing and socializing.



The design for the new student space in the L Building is in progress.

The Student Space Task Force, which is the first of many task forces that will assemble for millage projects, met on Feb. 17 to discuss designs for the addition.

Jack Burns, director of Campus Planning and Facilities, oversees the task force. The committee is composed of two architects, two interior designers, and students, staff, and professors who frequent the L Building.

During their meeting, they decided to refer to the space as a student commons rather than a student lounge.

“This is an academic building, it’s not a student union,” Biology professor and task force member Tracy Rayl said.

She thinks the term commons reminds students that although the space is for their comfort, it is also designed for studying.

“We are thinking of it as more of a student commons as opposed to simply a lounge, due to the multiple programmatic solutions this area will provide,” Burns said.

Tom Ryder, a task force member and the Campus Community Events/Student Activities coordinator, said one solution is simply having a place for students to go.

“Student lounge and student commons has a different meaning to each member on the committee. Some members of the committee see this more as a study area, while other see it as a more social area. I think the space will lend itself to both,” he said.

Ryder said everyone had different ideas on how the place should look.

 “Many ideas were tossed around including student study spaces, comfortable furniture, television, plug-in spaces/charging spaces for electronics, high and low tables and additional seating areas for students,” he said.

Rayl said the space will be furnished with different types of seating. There will be individual chairs with side tables and booths.

“We also talked about having some enclosed rooms, maybe three or four,” she said.

The private rooms will encourage open discussion, collaboration, and group work.

Geoscience professor and task force member Lisa Scarpelli said the rooms might have whiteboards and monitors. The monitors would be available for building and practicing presentations.

“There is really nowhere to do that. Our library doesn’t really have stuff like that,” Scarpelli said.

She also mentioned that they might incorporate a science theme into the space.

 Ryder is excited to have an open space for students to hang out.

“I think students need social spaces in every building.  A place to congregate after class, grab a pop and socialize with their friends.  This space gives them the opportunity to do that, plus a space to study if they choose to do so,” Ryder said.

 Scarpelli said there is no comfortable place to sit between classes, so she is happy they are providing that space.

“I have seen students out on those benches where they sit on the floor so that they have something to put their books on,” she said.

She said the one table in the building for students to sit at is always occupied, so they knew there was a need.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Rayl said. “I’m just happy that students on this side of campus will have an academic study space that they can utilize.”

Burns said he is in the process of setting up the next meeting to review the architectural design proposal.

“The task force will review the design and offer feedback, which then the architect will incorporate into the final construction documents,” he said.