August 30, 2003
Ashley Lord, Hullabaloo news co-editor
The Tulane University Center will officially close its doors for a two-year renovation Dec. 30. From student organizations to food vendors, all services the 44-year-old building currently houses will be given new locations throughout this semester. Since announcement of the plans for University Center renovations, Tulane officials and students have been preparing for the changes to the center of campus.
University facilities spread across campus
The relocation process began during the summer. The Central Building, which formerly housed the Budget and Accounting Offices, was taken off-line in mid-May. Services were relocated to both on and off campus locations. Changes were also made to accommodate offices moving to the Central Building in December.
"The budget office has moved out to Elmwood on that campus' site, and the accounting functions, which were on the Pocket Park, lower level, are now housed in 1030 Audubon Pl., which has been completely renovated," Vice President of Auxiliary Services Rob Hailey said.
Student Affairs, Undergraduate Student Government, Associated Student Body, CACTUS and other student offices will move to the Central Building. Ground-breaking for a temporary structure to be built on Bruff Quad also took place over the summer. Construction of the temporary building to house both the bookstore and food services currently found within the University Center began earlier this month.
This new structure, called the Bruff Pavilion, will extend all across the present quad, leaving minimal open area for delivery purposes and use by residents of nearby dorms. Other campus resources slated to move once the renovation begins include both STA Travel and Career Services. A small office to be built in the breezeway in front of Butler Hall is planned to be the new home of the Travel Center.
A similar structure will be built in the breezeway of Monroe Hall to house the barbershop currently in the basement of the University Center. The barbershop will move to the new facility upon its completion in 2006. The structure in Monroe Hall will then be occupied by HRL for administrative use. Career Services will relocate to Diboll Complex in the current space of Human Resources offices, and Human Resources will move to Uptown Square later this semester. These moves will be permanent for both organizations.
As for the other basement dwellers of the current University Center, all campus media groups including WTUL and TSTV will be moved to the Monk Simons building behind the Reily Center, to join current tenants Army and Air Force ROTC.
Food options change
Most food services will transfer to the Bruff Pavilion structure, but Chick-fil-a, Pizza Hut and Subway will not remain on campus. In addition to the remaining old vendors, a few new food choices will become available in the spring.
"One thing that Sodexho has been really great about is we challenged them to 'go outside of the box' on this temporary structure's food sources," Hailey said. "They have been wonderful about saying 'We are going to do something different.' It would have been easy for them to say 'Well, we will close down in December and move across the street and open up with the same stuff that we had before,' but they didn't do that. They've come up with Einstein Brothers Bagelry, something that our students will really like, and other great options."
In addition to Einstein's, a new Asian style cuisine venue will be added along with Zia Juice, a Freshens smoothie bar concept, both becoming available once the sprung structure opens. Sodexho Marketing Director Jeanne Charlebois described the choices as being the result of a survey done on Tulane students' locations and subsequent food likes and dislikes.
"A lot of these venues we've picked have been based on a zip code analysis we did called Lifestyling Process," Charlebois said. "We studied the student groups, did focus groups and got a lot of feedback. We looked at what are students at Tulane liking for dining options. We then placed that on a map and said that we had certain percentages of students in certain quadrants and we mapped where our dining locations best fit them. We found we had a lot of your traditional home and healthy type food, but we didn't have some of the trendier things, like Asian or Mediterranean food."
The late-night Der Rathskeller will close and relocate to the present home of the Bruff convenience store and deli. Once there, Der Rathskeller will become the Bruff Caf' and will feature expanded menu selections and hours.
"We had trouble finding a place where we could find an all night Rathskeller type set up, but we found a new location, and it will actually open up around 11 a.m. and be a grill and then open up again at nighttime," Hailey said.
The new menu will feature campus Rat favorites, but Charlebois describes the new location as also being, "a pizza concept as well as a grill concept. We will fill it out with booths to make it really cozy and comfy, so it will have a 'hang out' type atmosphere." The athletic performance buffet currently served at the Rat during the day will relocate as well. Instead of continuing the program within the new Bruff Caf', Sodexho and University Center officials have decided to combine buffet services with the regular Bruff Commons luncheon.
"This will be a huge advantage for the students," Charlebois said. "Right now we offer large protein and pasta bars to the athletes, and we will offer this to the students on Meal Plan, as well, starting in the spring. They will be able to take advantage of all foods offered only to the athletes."
Campus memorabilia not forgotten
Those planning UC renovations have had to consider where miscellaneous items, like plaques and trophies will go. The most talked about item is the Nydia, located in Pocket Park. The wooden boat has served as a remembrance of Tulane alumnus Baldwin Wood since 1961. That year Wood left a large endowment to the University with the condition that a replica of the Nydia, his beloved boat, be housed on campus for 99 years.
Only 42 years into that agreement Tulane officials, must find an appropriate place to house the item that has become a staple of campus culture for students and faculty alike.
"We were going to put it into the engineering building because Wood was an engineering graduate of Tulane, but it just didn't work logistically with the approval of the faculty and all," Leland Bennet, director of the University Center, said. "So Dr. Bruce, who is also on the faculty there, has done a fantastic job. He is the boat chair over at the Engineering School and he's rounded up the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Museum in Madisonville where they have the wooden boat festival, and they are very interested in restoring and displaying it."
As to whether or not this potential move will turn into a permanent relocation for the Nydia, Tulane officials are unsure. "We are looking at making it a loan, but we really would like to have it on campus," Hailey said. "We just have to find the right place to put it. I think the renovation gives us time to do that. We are adamant at making people understand that the Nydia is a large part of Tulane."
Helping students cope with transformations
Daily life at Tulane will be affected by the large renovation proceedings. Campus officials and student government representatives are preparing to help Tulanians adjust to the changes the closing of the University Center will cause.
"The construction is going to have a huge impact, particularly with the University Center because it is such a central location and is so important to all students," Associated Student Body President James White said. "The group that has been working on this project has really gone out of their way to make sure that the move is going to be as pleasant as possible, and that we as a university have the opportunity to go ahead with this and it not be completely miserable."
Renovation organizers are also encouraging all Tulane students to assist in making this transition easier by sending in comments and concerns throughout the process. They have put together a website for students and faculty to utilize over the next few months. This site, www.tom.tulane.edu, contains information on the project, updates on movements and contact information for Tulane officials involved.
"We are going to make a lot of assumptions as we move forward with this. Some are right and some are not," Hailey said. "The idea is that we want this process to be fluid and flexible enough that whatever comes up or happens we can make adjustments and changes. We want people to give us feedback on everything that is going on."
For now, Tulane administrators and those involved with the renovation project have high hopes for the future building and the next two years of construction. Most feel that while the relocation and subsequent events will be rough at first, the years in between the two buildings present the Green Wave community with a chance to make the best of the situation at hand and enjoy the new services that will be offered because of it.
"Yes, we are losing 110,000 square feet of useable space at the center of campus, and we've got to find a way to make that up," Hailey said. "We are losing a lot of convenience so we have to come up with a way to cluster these things so it becomes something that people still find value in. But hopefully the idea will be that if we are here, we take a step up during these two years while we are in these temporary locations, and then when the new UC opens up we can only continue to climb."
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