• By Alyson Heisler

Administration asks for student input on designs

Possible options for future student center designs

After a water break in February of last year due to a frozen sprinkler line, the Minot State University Student Center’s downstairs lounge and gaming area was severely damaged by water and has since been taken down to bare studs. The space remains empty as it awaits renovation.

At the time of the incident, Brent Winiger, vice president for administration and finance, stated that the damages would be fixed in the future, but no formal plans were in place.

“We don’t know exactly how we’re going to fix it. We were planning on remodeling the space a few years down the line, but we’ll have to rethink our plan,” he said.

Over the summer, renovation planning for the area began. JLG Architects, a midwest architecture firm, was contacted to assist in redesigning the first and second floor of the Student Center to increase the appeal and useability of the lower level.

“We’re going to try to look at this as more of an opportunity — we know we need to do something with the first-floor area — but is this the right time that we reimagine the entire space of the first and second floor?” said Kevin Harmon, vice president for student affairs.

Several improvements have been made to the Student Center in the past, including the conjoining of the Student Center and Administration buildings in the 1990s — previously, the two buildings were separated by a road that students would cross to go to their classes. The Beaver Dam was renovated in 2006, according to Leon Perzinski, Student Center director, to serve as a multi-purpose space for students to gather to study, work, and hang out with their friends and fellow students.

“The Beaver Dam has been around for over 10 years, and it’s time to think about how we can reimagine that space,” Harmon said. “But more importantly, we need to ask that question to our students — what would they like to see in the space?”

The future design of the space is being influenced by current MSU students, rather than administration, to ensure the successful usability of the space.

“It’s setting the Student Center up for the next 20 or 30 years,” Harmon said.

The renovation plans will focus on finding solutions to issues that have been brought to light in the last few years by students including the area not being well lit and its location being difficult to find.

In December of 2018, a gaming lounge was opened in the lower level of the Student Center that included several gaming consoles, vintage games machines, and a ping-pong table. Despite these updates, the area remained mostly unused.

These comments led to the major goals of the renovation when it was initially presented to JLG in the spring of 2019.

“One of the criticisms of the lower level was that ‘it’s a dark basement, no one wants to go there,’ so bringing in natural sunlight is something that we shared with the architects,” Harmon said. “If we’re going to use that space downstairs, number one — there needs to be more natural light, and number two — there needs to be a more natural opening to the level above it.”

Student involvement was at the forefront of the process from the beginning. Over the summer, a think tank conducted by a leadership team of members from the Student Government Association produced several ideas that served as the big-picture dream visual of the space.

“It’s a student center, so it needs to be designed for today’s students,” Harmon said.

These student-driven ideas will be taken into account along with JLG’s research findings to produce the final redesign setup.

To further research student opinions, JLG will host a visual listening session today from 11:30-1:30 p.m. in the Beaver Dam on the second floor of the Student Center, where they will present visual representations of possible designs for the space.

“They’ll have stations set up and they’ll give our university campus community different possibilities almost like a menu, if you will, set up throughout the Beaver Dam,” Harmon said.

Participants will be given a dot to choose the option that they like most, and representatives from JLG will be present to speak with students about the possible designs for the spaces. The event is sponsored by MSU Life, and free food with be available with a valid MSU student ID.

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