Twelve years after the Daily Barometer’s front page feature of Snell Hall’s imminent replacement, development has begun. Since obtaining legislative approval in March, strides have been taken towards the relocation of student programs to the Student Experience Center (SEC) from their former home in the structurally unstable Snell Hall.
The SEC will be home to an assortment of student programs and departments, all differing in cause yet founded in the same illustrious groundwork of student leadership, engagement, and involvement. One of the many groups directing this endeavor is the SEC-Center Space Allocation and Policy Committee (SAPC), which met on April fifth to discuss their continued obligation to space design, occupancy planning and architectural collaboration.
As specified in the meeting by Eric Alexander, Co-Chair and Director of Student Leadership and Involvement, “It’s easy to come to a table and represent yourself. However, when we come into this room we need to start by thinking of community first.” As challenging as it may appear, the SEC-SAPC performs nothing short of altruistic, as exhibited by the immense amount of importance placed on community when discussing the creation of a universal design that welcomes every student.
The SEC building project is multifaceted, drawing in input from not only the SEC-SAPC, but also the Construction Committee, Student Fee Impact, and MU East Wing Committee. Current conversations are centered on the creation of an accessible building that is sustainable in both structure and design yet aesthetically pleasing. As of now, being that all tenants have been chosen for the move to the new building, attention is also being spent on reviewing the existing scheme of the project, which currently amounts to 125 percent over budget. In addition to the progress being made on the Student Experience Center, further decisions have to be reached considering the renovation of the Memorial Union East Wing. Numerous spaces are being relinquished as programs leave for the SEC, granting the MU East Wing Committee primary responsibility over making recommendations on vacancies and properly housing all programs formerly located in Snell Hall.
Originally, the plan was to remodel the MU east wing after completion of the SEC. However changes in the financing system for Oregon Higher Education have generated the possibility of constructing both projects at once, meaning not only a conservation of funds but less disruption to campus. The core purpose of the MU east wing remodel is the formation of a second event area, similar to that of the MU ballroom, allowing more students the ability to reserve space. It will not only be a larger and more functional replacement for the International Forum located in Snell Hall, but will also house the Cultural Meal kitchen, ISOSU/IRC programs, veteran services, and new retail space to generate revenue in an attempt to keep student fees low.
These are projects for the students, by the students as exhibited by the 2:1 ratio of student to faculty on the SEC-SAPC. You have invested in the funding of this project, and in so deserve to be kept up to date on all design activity and choices. Information and updates on the project will be continually posted to this blog, as well as open meeting times and locations.
Things change rapidly. The goal is to construct a building for the future by thinking in generalities and with the coming years in mind. As Jennifer Creighton-Neiwert of the AABC said, “It’s not where the building is today, it’s where it will be 100 years from now.”