March 15, 2010
Bright, cheery spaces to lounge in, a Taco Bell on-site for a lunchtime burrito and a Starbucks nearby for coffee on the go are three powerful draws attracting visitors in droves to Ball State University's newly renovated L.A. Pittenger Student Center.
"With the opening of the new Tally area, there is an energy and definitely an increase in the number of students coming both during meal times and to hang out," said Lynda Wiley, assistant vice president for student affairs and director of student life. "It's the first time in my 13 years here where I've discovered, if you come by for lunch, you may not be able to find a seat."
Anchoring the south end of Ball State's campus, the Pittenger Student Center has been a gathering place for students since its doors were first opened in 1952. Over the years, additions and remodels were made in 1959, 1961 and 1994 but it's the most recent, 19-month-long, $15 million renovation project that administrators believe will restore the Student Center as a campus hub of activity.
A ribbon cutting and rededication ceremony for the completed project is scheduled at 4 p.m. March 17 in the Student Center Tally to mark the building's grand reopening. Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the ceremony, which will feature remarks from President Jo Ann M. Gora and Student Government Association President Beth Cahill. Self-guided tours of the facility are encouraged.
New features inside the Student Center include a more welcoming front entrance with a campus information center. The Tally has been redesigned with high ceilings, plenty of natural light and a food court featuring a much-requested Taco Bell and Starbucks, in addition to a convenience store section. All student organization offices are now located on the first level—along with Disabled Student Development—to create an interactive student activities complex.
Greg Graham, interim director of Ball State's Facilities and Planning and project manager, said a host of invisible improvements also were made to the building, including technology upgrades to the Ballroom, Cardinal Hall and meeting rooms, an interior design makeover, and the replacement of all windows, heating/cooling, electrical and plumbing systems.
"It's great to have people stop by and say, 'Wow! This doesn't even look like the same place I remember!'" Graham said. "I think what we have now is a space that's more inviting than it's ever been."