Marietta College, a private liberal arts college in Marietta, OH, commissioned NORR to undertake a feasibility study for a new Student Center that would serve as a multi-purpose building for its 1,200 students at the true heart of the campus. The existing Gilman Student Center was built in 1959 and no longer serves the needs of the College. The College was forced to distribute food service venues and student services across campus to alleviate pressure on the undersized and antiquated Gilman building. The vision for the new Student Center is to serve as the main all-you-care-to-eat and service building on campus in one consolidated student-centric space.
The feasibility study considers options for an appropriate location for the Center including: an entirely new building on the current Gilman site; a new facility on an alternate site; and phased building on the Gilman site that allows the existing facility to remain operational during construction. Each consideration was faced with a challenge that significantly impacts the project budget and timeline. Removing the existing building requires a temporary dining solution; the new site is in the flood plain; and a phased construction ultimately results in a compromised building solution.
Through the course of the feasibility study, NORR balanced the desire of students and administration for the building to be future focused, yet respectful of the College’s rich history. A centrally located site was selected to ensure equal adjacency to the academic core and student residence halls. The 45,000 square-foot Student Center will serve as a bookend opposite the Legacy Library across the campus quad, and the first stop on campus tours. Program elements such as the student organization suite, student affairs offices and student lounge spaces are clustered together to foster collaboration and invite student participation. The welcome center, main dining room, campus living room and learning stair are flexible, large open spaces that place the theater of student activity on display. They anchor the Student Center and form the heart of a vibrant campus community.
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