By J.A. Garcia
Construction for a new and improved Loftin Student Center is nearing the end. From the sounds and looks of it, students will have an exciting new space for lounging and eating.
“The idea is that there will always be something going on in the student center,” student life Director Jorge Posadas said.
As Posadas gives a tour and an explanation of what is to come in the center, the sounds of construction workers drilling and hammering, people bumping into tables, chairs and an occasional student; and the loud voices and laughter coming from the arcade quickly becomes distracting.
When walking into Loftin, there is plastic sheeting draped everywhere to isolate the renovations. One may not see the promising final product, but Posadas quickly assures the new center will be a fresh and fun new space.
As reported in The Ranger last fall, students from Professor Isabel Garcia’s ARCH 2470, Architectural Design 3, worked with a $170,000 budget, which was approved by the Student Activity Fee Committee.
The class was then split into two groups and each came up with their own designs and presented their plans to their classmates; President Robert Zeigler; Emma Mendiola, interim dean of student affairs; Debbie Garcia, coordinator of facilities management; Posadas; and Isabel Garcia. The student body then got the chance to vote for the design they liked best.
While some ideas were cut from the students’ design early on — a glass and a wire stair rail and an acoustic ceiling with suspended panels — that came as no surprise to Garcia’s students, as they were high priced.
She said she is pleased and excited with the project’s progress and credits Posadas for allowing the students’ visualization to come to life.
“They’ve done a fairly good job of following the basic ideas of what the students designed,” Garcia said.
The students not only came up with the design and budget, they also came up with ideas for furniture, fixtures, color schemes and carpeting as well, she said.
Garcia said she believes the new design of the center will increase the usage of the center and reflect a sense of community among students as the office of student life intended it to be.
As for the new facelift for Loftin, students can expect visible changes. The second floor will house the new office of student life; a craft and meeting room for organizations equipped with butcher paper and other supplies; a lounge for video gaming equipped with two big screen TVs; a cafe setting dining area with stools facing the windows and bistro tables; a stage facing the dining area; and an open Bailey’s Cyber Cafe where the arcade previously was. The computers will be set on countertops.
As you walk in through the east entrance of Loftin, there will be a minibookstore located to the left of the entrance and the information desk facing the doors. They are in the process of negotiating where to put the door to the minibookstore, Posadas said.
It will most likely be on the outside of Loftin so the bookstore can service weekend students as Loftin is closed on weekends, Posadas said.
Another addition to the first floor is the Fiesta Room, which will be getting a new stage. Walking toward the cafeteria, you will notice a new partition facing the formerly raised, semicircular dining area. The north side of the wall facing the dining space will be used for musicians to set up their instruments and gear. The south side of the wall will be used for formal lectures.
The ideal situation is that speakers will be able to set up a podium to speak and have the chairs and students facing them, Posadas said.
The arcade will be located where the old student life office was and will be surrounded by a long, curved acoustic wall to absorb the noise from the arcade. On the outside of that curved wall, countertops will be put in place for laptop users.
On the north side of the center will be a spacious dining area with an array of dining tables, chairs, stools and countertops so that students can have another space to use their laptops.
“We’re really trying hard to convince students to use the laptop bars instead of the cafeteria tables,” he said.
The flooring where the previous semi-circle was will be a faux-marble terrazzo design. The majority of the budget, about $60,000, was spent on restoring that area, Posadas said.
Making sure there was a walkway from the restrooms in Loftin leading toward the south exit is another important addition to the center.
“Before, there wasn’t really a way to walk,” he said. Previously, students would have to walk through the center of the circled area or go around it.
As for the furniture, look for single chairs rather than sofas, Posadas said. The new furniture will be modern and fun, yet comfortable. Chairs ranging from tall stools to low cushioned chairs will be available.
As you may have noticed, the color scheme for Loftin will be blue, green and gray.
Other additions Posadas is hoping for is the school seal to be visible as soon as you walk in through the east entrance, as well as pingpong tables in the arcade area. All of that is pending on how much money is left once the project is completed and the approval of the Student Activity Fee Committee.
Also expect artwork in Loftin. To show the school’s strong history, there will be black and white pictures on the second floor that portray this campus from its beginnings at the German-English school at La Villita to the present. Upstairs, there will be pictures of club members throughout the years.
Expected completion is still set for the beginning of the spring semester.