New Student Services Center on the way
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:04
Parkland College has been busy over the course of the 2011-2012 school year with several construction projects across campus. Their latest one, a brand new Student Services Center, will begin construction within the next month.
Groundbreaking for the new facility is scheduled for Monday, April 16, and will take place in front of the L-Wing near the circle drive. Construction is expected to begin to within the following weeks.
The new building will be an extension of the B, A, and L-Wings on the east side of campus in the area closest to the current bus stop circle drive.
The idea behind the 113,000 square foot project is to create more space for admissions and records, counseling and advising and financial aid. The center will also house new offices for all student life functions and additional lounge space for students.
“We wanted someplace where there would be a central location that would be easy for incoming students to come in and do all their things they need to do to start their education at Parkland,” Physical Plant Director Jim Bustard explained. Bustard oversees all campus improvement projects.
This project, like the new fitness center, was on Parkland’s list of desired improvements since the mid 1990’s. Only recently have funds become available, which has enabled the college to begin work on this plan and the many others that are to come in the future.
The brand new student life activities offices will house the student government, Prospectus News and the student ID office and will be on first floor near the L wing.
The plans also outline a brand new dining area that offers seating for up to 380 people. It will include a full service kitchen with a menu that offers twice the number of choices as the current food service. The college has yet to decide on a food service provider for the location.
The two current locations for ordering food will remain active although they may hold different food service venues than Food for Thought’s Gulliver’s and Mama Leone’s Cafes which are there now.
The seating arrangements for this area will be like nothing Parkland has seen before. “Their will be a mix of tables and chairs, there’s some booths in there, some high bar seating in one side, plus an outside patio area,” Bustard said.
There will even be television sets for students to enjoy while they eat or study.
Along sided the new dining area will be the brand new bookstore and a number of conference rooms. A collapsible wall will separate the meeting room and dining area.
The conference room area will be four feet above the dining floor where it can serve as a stage as well. Bands, speeches, and other events may take place in those new friendly confines.
The second floor will include a new assessment center, as well as the financial aid, counseling and advising, cashier business, deans’ and admissions and records offices. The project plans also include a third floor.
The area on the third floor has not yet been allocated. “Right now it is only designed as an empty space,” Bustard said. “We’re not sure exactly what we’re going to use the space for.” Bustard is almost certain that administrative and classrooms are most likely to fill that space.
One important aspect of the new Student Services Center will be the smaller, more intimate study areas. These areas will hold groups of 4-5 students instead of being open like the large noisy seating areas currently found around campus. All furniture brought in for the new facility will be brand new.
As part of the renovation process, many classrooms in the B and L-Wings will be earmarked for relocation due to the loud noise levels associated with construction.
Bustard is not worried about the construction affecting Parkland students. “Generally speaking, the contractors we’ve had on campus have been really good to work with,” he said. “I’ve been able to go out and ask them to do something else for a while. They try to get their real noisy stuff done before 8 in the morning.”
Steps will be taken to ensure that students in those areas of the school will still be able to do their schoolwork without having to hear the construction.
There will be three entrances to the new area from the rest of campus. “On the ground floor, the only way to get in to the student services center in an indoor connection is through the A wing,” Bustard explained. “On the second floor, you’ll get in through the B wing and the A wing.”
There will also be brand new entrances for all three of those wings.
Some important things for students to know are that the D-Wing parking lot will be the new drop off and pick up location for the MTD buses. During construction, the B-1 parking lot will be closed, as will be the east entrances to the A, B, and L wings.
Parkland has two other projects already nearing completion. The Fitness Center and the Applied Technology Center are projected to be completed by the fall of 2012.
You can check in on the progress of each of these new and exciting Parkland upgrade projects by visiting http://www.parkland.edu/construction-update and clicking on one of the links.