Inside the Campus Commons

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A combination of UNC Student Senate members and staff saw first-hand several aspects of the new campus headquarters, including the performance venue. Photo by Mackenzie Eldred.

If you have ever wanted a 600-seat performance venue, a 400-seat multipurpose auditorium, or another café on campus? Either way, get ready for the new Campus Commons.

The idea of Campus Commons was introduced to UNC students, staff, faculty, and community members in the spring of 2014. They were asked to share their ideas and thoughts about the new building, and in the summer of 2014, a program plan about the visions, financing, construction schedule and facility requirements was published.

The Campus Commons is being built with three main goals. The first goal is to increase the number of students who enroll and succeed at UNC. The second goal is to address the basic curricular needs of students in performing and visual arts, business, nutrition and hospitality. The third and final goal is to create a welcoming and accessible point of connection between UNC and the broader community.

The new building will be used for admissions counselors, new student orientation, study abroad programs, international student support, career services, community and civic engagement and alumni relations. Campus tours will also begin in this building. This is designed to be a one-stop center for students, as well as a way to showcase the music and musical theater productions in the heart of campus.

Kirk Leichliter, the assistant vice president of facilities management, led a small group of UNC alumni, staff, and members of Student Senate to tour the Campus Commons on Saturday, Feb. 24.

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“We should get everything but the performance hall turned over to us in early December,” Leichliter said. “So then we’ll work with the occupants to decide whether they’re going to be up and running for the beginning of the spring semester, or whether that’s their busy time and they need to move later in the spring semester. So we’ll learn that in just a bit.”

According to Leichliter, the 600-seat performance hall features a stage similar to Langworthy Theater in Frasier Hall. There will be an orchestra shell, which is set up to change sizes depending on how small or large the orchestra group is. The orchestra pit features an orchestra lift, where it can be raised to increase the amount of stage, lowered down one level where 80 more seats can roll out on the lift and then be raised to house level for a bigger audience, or it can be lowered to make a bigger orchestra pit. The heating will come from below the seats, which will be better acoustically and used for temperature control.

The Campus Commons will also feature a rehearsal room with shaped walls and curtain systems.

The balcony level of the Campus Commons features more bathrooms and conference spaces. There are several conference rooms for 30 people, and another 50-person conference room in the corner. The balcony level also has meeting and group rooms, which can be for study work or other uses.

GPS+ Director Sarah Chase introduced the integrated services center in the Campus Commons.

“This is our integrated business services and student services center, so this is what will become the GPS+. This is what we’ve been calling the ‘one-stop,’” Chase said. “So this is where students will be able to come in and get help with financial aid questions, make changes to registration, possibly set up an appointment for career counseling. We’ll be actually located next to the career center and so next to the center for international education and civic engagement and we’ll be able to help connect and do some referrals from there.”

Chase said the integrated business services and student services center will be a great place for students to get a lot done in one visit, as well as get more information.

According to Leichliter, the integrated business services and student services center will be the main entry on that level, which will go down the hill and connect outside of Zachariah’s in the UC. They will be adding more tables and an outdoor space, as well as building a fire-pit outside. They are also redoing the patio outside of the ballrooms.

Lyndsey Crum, the assistant vice president for alumni relations, went on the tour and spoke to the group about possible student jobs in the Campus Commons.

“So for offices that currently employ large amounts of students that are going to be located – so our student ambassadors, the admissions office, alumni student assistance that work in my office, student assistants that work in her office, or international education – much like the professional staff that we work with, they’re going to be located here,” Crum said. “Kirk and our planning team have been working with those team leaders like me that make sure we have space for our student workers, so that’s all been thought about. So if you’re one of those offices or you want to apply for an office job – alumni, admissions, career, orientation – you’ll have a space in this facility in addition to all the service spaces that are available. You’ll be here with us.”

According to Leichliter, there is just a room or two who’s current places are being vacated, such as civic engagements, which has two offices in Michener Library. The visitor’s center is the biggest single space that is moving to Campus Commons, and they are in process of evaluating to see who else needs to be there. Several other units that need more space could possibly fit in the current visitor’s center on campus. Some spaces have multiple components and will be split between the UC and Campus Commons, such as International Education. There won’t be a lot of vacated space due to the Campus Commons project.

The Campus Commons is a $73.6 million project, which is funded from state capital funds, private donor gifts, and bonds supported by student capital fees. According to the campus commons website, every university in Colorado charges a student capital fee, which is used for construction and maintenance. This requires a full-time UNC student to pay a fee of $160 per year for this project. The capital fee is designed in a way that will pay off the construction of the Campus Commons in over a 30-year period approximately.

A livesteam video of the Campus Commons tour can be found on The Mirror’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UNCMirror/videos/10155495621173510/

 

 

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