Tentative floor plans for new student center released

Yes, it will still take five years, and no, there are no actual buildings in place yet. But there is something new to look at: tentative floor plans.

Sometime last month, images for the new space in the student center were drawn up by architects. According to Bettie Ann Brigham, Vice President of Student Development, the images show three floors to the building, including a brand new dining hall with a balcony holding up to 80 people.

Other buildings that will be built are a recital hall, proposed to be in and around the Walton patio, an extension to the gymnasium and an extension to McInnis Hall.

Despite some rumors, none of these structures will be encroaching on environment-protected areas. According to Carl Altomare, Executive Director of Campus Services, the new buildings will not be built on wetlands. Some trees will need to be cut down, but they will all be replaced throughout the campus.

“Eastern is committed to a goal of putting forth projects that have important aspects with environmental sustainability in mind, and will plan and initiate our actions carefully to limit the construction’s impact on the environment as much as possible,” Altomare said in an email.

There is consideration in adding “green” areas to each of the buildings, including roofing and LED lighting fixtures.

Due to township codes, some parking will be added to the campus. Various locations are under consideration, including the area in front of Eagle Learning Center towards Eagle Road.

Because the student center will be on the softball field, a new softball field will be built approximately a mile away.

“From the fitness center, to the competition arena, to office and locker room space, we feel these upgrades are crucial to our continued growth and will not only benefit our more than 300 student-athletes, but the general student population as well,” Director of Athletics Brad Fields said in an email regarding the gym extension.

Once the new student center is built, various departments will shift around the campus. Palmer Theological Seminary is set to go into Fowler Hall, those in Fowler will go into Workman and the music and dance departments will move into Walton.

“We are grateful for the increased space and the synergy of a shared location that Walton will provide,” head of the music department Dr. Ron Matthews said in an email.

While nothing is set in stone yet, Eastern has a very solid idea of what is to come.

“Eastern is both a modest and a visionary place,” President Dr. David Black said in an email. “While honoring that teaching, we must still provide spaces for learning and formation that facilitate excellence.”

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