New student lounge opening delayed to March

By Lindsey Smith

With the new Highlander store now officially open on Snelling, construction on the renovation of the student lounge will begin over winter break. The project was originally forecasted to be completed by the beginning of second semester, but the deadline has been pushed back in light of various obstacles. “The plan is to open in March, right around spring break,” wrote Laurie Hamre, Vice President for Student Affairs, in an email. There was concern that the new deadline would mean that noise from the construction work would interfere with students’ studying in the campus center, but Hamre discredited this worry. “The bulk of the noisy deconstruction will occur at the end of December and during the January break,” she wrote. The are several factors that delayed the project. Primarily, the plans started with an overly ambitious allowance of time for the process. “Although we were enthusiastic about the timeline, it may not have been realistic,” wrote Cindy Haarstad, Director of the Campus Center. Haarstad said that planning the construction details and collaborating with the architects took longer than anticipated. “It was important to get it right rather than speed though the planning process,” wrote Hamre. There were also concerns over the total cost of the renovation. “The estimated cost of the project came in higher than anticipated, so we are now in the process of re-evaluating specific aspects of the project,” wrote Haarstad. She also noted staffing changes as an obstacle in the planning process. “Due to unanticipated staffing departures at POPE Architects, we had a new architect and interior designer come on to the project a few weeks ago,” she wrote. These setbacks led to a deadline extension to March, but Haarstad stressed that the new construction schedule is tentative. “Variables that could impact the timeline include such things as holiday work schedules of contractors, delays in receiving construction materials and potentially our own delays in making final design decisions,” she wrote. Harstaad noted that receiving construction materials on time, such as fixtures and furnishings, may be especially problematic because “in our current economy, many businesses don’t keep an abundance of products on hand but instead create the items as they are ordered,” she wrote. This could mean drawn out delays if certain construction materials are not readily available. The project could also be set back further by the administrators’ hesitance to finalize design decisions, but there is a consensus that the spring break deadline is more realistic than the plan to finish the lounge by the end of J-term. Despite disappointment that there will be no student lounge for the first months of second semester, the student body is awaiting the new space with joyful anticipation. refresh –>