As students begin to return to campus over the next couple weeks they may be surprised at what they find.
“The plaza’s pretty much gone,” said Doni Luckutt, director of marketing for the LSC. “It’s almost nonexistent at the moment.”
Over summer the construction surrounding the Lory Student Center has extended into the plaza, leaving just a fraction of space where students can walk.
“[The] space is much smaller than expected,” Luckutt said. “[It’s] not going to be the LSC Plaza as you know it.”
A fence went up in May right after Commencement and encased most of the plaza with the exception of the east side, including entrance to both the Computer Science Building and Engineering.
“The thought was that the construction crew could take up all this space during the summer and then shrink it back down for fall, but when we started looking at how much activity and noise there is, as well as safety concerns, we thought maybe we should consider a bigger space being taken from the Plaza,” Luckutt said.
This loss of space means that activities that usually call the plaza home will have to move elsewhere or simply not happen.
“There are a lot of events that happen on the plaza,” said Nik Olsen, assistant director for administrative communications. “I think a lot of them are just going to have to be figured out case-by-case.”
Alternate locations for such events include the space in front of the Morgan Library, the West Lawn, and Monfort Quad.
Losing the plaza will have a definite effect on students’ ability to navigate campus, but both Luckutt and Olsen assure that those involved are working to minimize the inconvenience in any way they can.
“The Student Center and Facilities (Management) have done a lot to kind of ease the transition. Dealing with this temporary reality of a large construction project in the middle of campus is not the easiest thing,” Olsen said. “We all trust that the Student Center and our Facilities Management team have a good handle on how to get it done in the most efficient manner.”
In addition to a live feed of the plaza construction that updates every five seconds, there will be signage covering campus when students return for fall.
“We’ve been putting maps everywhere,” Luckutt said. “We’ve been giving everyone notice. When school starts there’s going to be a heavy emphasis on making sure there’s a map showing where fences are and where people need to go.”
In addition, 25 thousand fold-up mini-maps will be distributed in an attempt to help students find their way around the construction.
“We’ve been planning for this for a long, long time and our number one goal is to make sure students are informed and that their daily activities are interrupted as little as possible,” Luckutt said.
While there are no official predictions on how long this fence will shrink the plaza, Luckutt can confirm that it will be mostly closed for the Fall 2013 semester. Predictions for Spring 2014 cannot be made yet.
“[This] is kind of how the construction process goes,” Luckutt said. “Things happen and you have to adjust and make sure you’re taking everyone and all the needs of the campus into consideration to make as small of a disruption as possible.”
Senior Reporter McKenna Ferguson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.