On Friday, December 2, I ventured to Heston Hall (you know, that one building that no one really goes to on the east side of the campus), to meet with two excellent people, Vice President of Student Affairs, Marcus Garstecki and Vice President of Business & Administrative Services, Stacey Krusemark. There, we discussed something you have no doubt noticed whilst venturing around campus, the construction projects. During our chat, I discovered just what all of these projects are, when we can expect all of this incredible work the construction workers are doing to be finished, and what it means for our campus. Plus, it means we will no longer have to walk extra distance just to get coffee before class!
The projects are each detailed in their own section below, along with a few images that Garstecki and Krusemark offered me.
There have been many rumors floating around about what is currently happening to the hospital, and the honest answer is two-fold. The top floor of the building is going to be a brand new residence hall, which Garstecki called “semi-suites.” Simply put, it is something classified between a dorm and the 8-plex apartments, and they will include two bedrooms and a shared living room, with a more private bathroom than the dorms currently have. This building will also have both regular single and double-occupancy dorms that will be fully renovated, and some will even have in-room sinks. Garstecki notes that these additions have been something students have requested on various surveys and in small focus groups these past few years leading up to the actual completion of the projects. In addition to all of the previously mentioned features, the living areas will be complemented by kitchens and lounge areas, places which will act as community and hang-out space for students.
The lower floor of what used to be Madison’s hospital, which Garstecki has titled the “Learning Engagement Center,” will be a full stop of student services in one convenient place. Four of the major offices here at DSU, career services, international programs, student success, and the diversity inclusion office will all be moving to this one area, as they are currently spread widely throughout various buildings on campus.
Figure 1:Here we can see what will be the new semi-suites in the former hospital building.
Trojan Center & Marketplace
The Trojan Center (TC), our Student Union, is currently undergoing the first segment of a multi-faceted plan. Right now, the most noticeable work is just across from where Student Services and Einstein’s Bagels currently reside. That area is going to be a new kitchen, stocked full of various pieces of new equipment for Sodexo’s use. Later, DSU plans on completely revamping the serving area and moving it to the south near the new kitchen, but that is a future phase in the ongoing scheme of renovation, along with a few changes to the east side. The DSU Bookstore will be moving to this side of the building, allowing it to expand and giving both students and community members easier access to the store, as it will be visible from Washington Avenue. Einstein’s will also be visible from the curb, but is moving further south so that it has a better location in regard to the Marketplace, as Garstecki notes that DSU’s intention is to make that portion of the Marketplace feel more like an overall “retail center,” instead of everything being scattered about through long hallways. With Einstein’s moving a little bit south, the vacated area will act as the lounge for Zimmermann Hall, the one residence hall that currently lacks any sort of lobby like the others.
There are many other changes taking place within the Trojan Center, but the Marketplace will stay in the same location and just undergo some drastically needed renovation, possibly expansion. Student Services will take the place the Bookstore plans on vacating, as the office has outgrown their small space near Einstein’s. Bits n’ Bytes, DSU’s convenience store, will also move south to play a role in the future “retail center” of the Student Union. Finally, the southwest corner, you know, that part of the project that makes you walk all the way around campus to get from one side to the other, will be a brand new student lounge, complete with an even more-improved game room and hangout space for students to veg out and do homework.
Figure 2:An in-progress photograph of what will be the kitchen and laundry facilities in the new res halls to the north of campus.
Figure 3:Construction workers labor diligently on the new serving and kitchen area in the TC.
Figure 4:With what used to be the Spectrum Lounge, a view of the kitchen and future serving area with a northeast angle.
Perhaps the most visually-impressive piece of ongoing work on campus right now, and one that plans on directly mirroring entrances with the future finished version of the Trojan Center, the Beacom Building will be a combination of hangout space, collaboration center, and multiple classrooms. The major features to note in this building include the staircase area (which can be seen from the street right now, as the building has not yet been closed off), which Krusemark notes can act as primarily, and perhaps most obviously, a staircase to the second floor, but also, and this is really incredible, a stage will be built halfway up the stairwell. This setup allows for raised productions to actually perform on the stairs, or vice versa, the stairs act as a set of bleachers for the performance. In addition to this creative and ingenious stairwell section, the finished Beacom Building will include two huge projection systems, a five-by-five wall of 55” flat-screen televisions, and another even larger projection system. All of this is on top of the usual classroom settings, which professors and instructors are already reserving for Fall 2017.
Krusemark notes that as the Information Technology courses and a few other classes that currently go on in East Hall move to Beacom, he and the rest of the planning committee for these renovations believe that the whole idea of this building is not just knowing how to teach now, but how to teach university students in five, ten, even fifteen years in the future. He states several times that with all of the technology eventually residing in that building, “Imagination is our only limitation.”
All of these projects represent an incredible shift in DSU’s image, but the biggest question in your mind right now is when can we expect to see them all finished, right? Well, Garstecki has confirmed that completion for these projects is scheduled for the Fall 2017 semester. He fully anticipates that students will be living in the new res halls in the former hospital building that year, with people being able to look at sketches and renderings of what those rooms may look like as early as January or February of 2017. Garstecki is very excited for students to begin actually seeing what that building will turn into once completed. As for the Trojan Center and the Marketplace, the new kitchen will be finished sometime over Christmas break, which means that Sodexo will actually be using the new kitchen during Spring 2017, although students will not be able to use the new serving area until a few weeks into the next semester, Krusemark and Garstecki explained. “All of these projects are right on schedule, and the weather has been very good for them this fall. We’re very excited about all of this.” Garstecki notes.
This construction will not only shift DSU’s physical image of campus, but also will bring forth several layers of convenience and ease of access for students, particularly with the Learning Engagement Center. It will become a focal point for campus, and the close proximity to the rest of the buildings will offer a renewed sense of community for this small campus, as will the new hangout spaces throughout the new renovation areas.
These projects are the first major pieces of construction and renovation that have occurred at Dakota State since 1985-86. Krusemark notes that all of this change on DSU’s campus will send a message to the world that this once-tiny campus is growing and that there is a lot of exciting stuff happening here, and that all of these recent changes will reinforce the fact that DSU is constantly willing to better itself, and in several ways, really is holding true to the motto of embracing innovation, both in the classroom and in its campus appearance.