November 21, 2003
It's a game of musical chairs played out on a large scale and with a short fuse. And when the music stops, all the departments, organizations and services located in the University Center will have been dispersed into temporary housing across the uptown campus.
The long-anticipated renovation of the 40-year-old University Center is almost at hand, but before work can begin on it in January, the facility must be completely emptied of its occupants.
"It's not that big a deal," says Rob Hailey, associate vice president for auxiliary services and student centers. "It's very doable. My mantra has been, you know, if this is the worst thing any of us has to go through, then we're living a pretty charmed life."
Charmed, perhaps, but hectic, too. Before the winter holidays begin, the more than 20 entities still residing in the University Center will have to pack up and move to new locations, some of which have not as yet been constructed. The largest of these constructions is hard to miss: a massive, 19,000- square-foot structure that is going up in Bruff Quad and will remain there until the University Center renovation is completed in January 2006.
The building, manufactured by Sprung Instant Structures, is constructed of extruded aluminum arches and an all-weather outer "architectural membrane." According to Hailey, in order to meet standards of building codes, a concrete foundation had to be poured to support the construction. Hailey said the foundation will be removed when the building is disassembled.
The Sprung structure, to be called The Pavilion, will house the University Center's two largest occupants: the Barnes and Noble bookstore and food services, which will make their move in the last two weeks of the year.
"The bookstore will contain everything it does now and the food area will serve 350 people," says Hailey, who notes that the Pizza Hut and Subway outlets will not make the move and are being replaced by Einstein Brothers Bagels. "We also are adding Mein Bowl, an Asian- concept establishment," says Hailey.
Taco Bell, Chik-Fil-A, Freshens, the sushi case and the cafeteria will all be serving food in the new structure come January. The Rathskellar will be renamed and moved to the current location of the Bruff Stuff store, which in turn will be relocated to the front of Bruff Commons. For that to happen, meal plan/vending and card services is moving from Bruff to the rear of Butler Hall in early November. Career Services and Tulane University Legal Assistance Program have lead the exodus from the University Center and are already settled into office space at the Diboll Complex.
Career Services will remain at Diboll and will not return to the University Center in 2006. If all goes according to schedule, student programs and multicultural affairs will cross Pocket Park in early November to set up shop in the Central Building. Following on their heels will be the student media organizations, which will relocate in the Monk Simons Building.
There will be a flurry of construction in the breezeway of Monroe Hall and adjacent to Butler Hall to accommodate the December moves of the barbershop and STA Travel, respectively. At the same time, the copy center will begin to share space with the post office at Bruff Commons. Later in the month, Whitney Bank is scheduled to move to a trailer located between Bruff Commons and Irby Hall. By clustering ATM machines in the same location, all banking activity will be centralized, says Hailey.
Last to go will be the University Center's operations office, which will move in late December to space adjacent to the foyer of McAlister Auditorium. As if that wasn't enough activity, one of the greatest challenges created by the eminent closing of the University Center has been finding adequate meeting space for campus groups, says Leland Bennett, University Center director.
"We are hoping to use space in the Sprung structure as well as in McAlister," says Bennett, who says he has been gratified to see an outpouring of cooperation from the campus community. "There has been terrific collaboration," agrees Missie McGuire, director of campus recreation, who says that a team comprising staff from conference services and the University Center administrative office scoured the campus to find available meeting locales, which include such innovative spots as the chapel space in Myra Clare Rogers Memorial Chapel, the patio area of Jones Hall and the robing room in McAlister Auditorium.
At press time, approximately 35 possible conference locations had been identified. Information about available meeting space and directions for reserving and confirming a space have been uploaded to the Tulane Online Marketplace site (www.tom.tulane.edu). The same site will direct you to more information about the University Center renovations and closing.
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