A Tour of the Center
by Justin D. Greenough
Reprinted from Newspeak with permission
It's often been called the "Third Tower" by many who believe that it will fill the social void in WPI's tradition. However, when I met Elizabeth "Zibby" Erickson, a principal at Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott and a member of the architectural staff working on the Center, she shared with me a vision that was quite different. To her, it will be a lantern, beating away the darkness on the enormous hill that we call our home. That lantern, unlike the many other structures that came before it, will serve to bring the bees to honey even in the evening with its large glass panes and heavily lighted peaks. During the day, it will be a sun-filled place where students, faculty and administrators can finally come together in social harmony. There will be something for everyone, weaving together the academic, residential and athletic portions of the campus.
That's a pretty big job for one building. But, if any building can handle the task, WPI's new Campus Center will be well equipped for the job. Like the students who will wander its floors, the Center, with its long and inclusive development process, will be a great monument and a wonderful reward for the great work that goes on at this institution. In short, the center is destined to be buzzing with activities of all sorts. Whether shooting pool, having a cup of coffee with a friend, reading a good book or broadcasting the latest sounds from WWPI's new studio, students and faculty alike will enjoy the community atmosphere that surrounds them.
Join me, as I take you on a tour of this wonderful new world. We'll venture into the depths of the new WPI Campus Center and see what all the hype is about. I assure you that you will not be disappointed.
We'll begin at the Reunion Fountain Plaza, for this will undoubtedly be one of the most beautiful spots from which to view the Center and very likely the most commonly used entrance to a building that has two 'front doors'. Looking to your left, between Higgins Labs and Olin Hall, imagine a huge two-story glass and brick structure that looks as if it was always there. It is surrounded by plush greenery and is accented by the trickling fountain before it. Let's walk inside.
As we pass into the main foyer, I can smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and baked goods. Can you smell it too? It's coming from the coffee bar to your right. Let's stop at the ATM first, though, on the left so I can get some cash and I'll buy you a cup. We can even head around the corner and go into the Tatnuck Marketplace to sit and have our coffee at the inside cafe. Would you like to sit at the tall barstool-like tables? That looks like a comfortable place to enjoy our coffee and look over the morning paper.
Having had our coffee, let's browse the bookstore and convenience area. Wow! There's so much more to choose from than the old Tatnuck in Daniels Hall. And look! There's a poetry-reading tomorrow evening! We'll have to check that out.
Moving outside of the bookstore, I see a couple of our friends sitting on a couch across the way, checking their email at a public terminal. Let's go chat with them for a moment and look over the balcony. Below are a few people buzzing about in the food court area. They are checking-out at the registers and walking over to have a seat in the raised-platform dining area. Here, they can relax in the morning sun that streams through the glass wall and admire the beautiful Higgins gardens outside. Let's continue, walking back towards the ATM, around the corner to the Student Life and Minority Student Affairs Offices and the Student Publications Suite. Here, we might check-out the latest happenings and pick-up a copy of Newspeak or the Peddler.
Okay, now let's see what's upstairs. We'll walk up the grand staircase and move to the left. Here, we'll find WWPI broadcasting from their new sound booth. Also, there are the Student Actvities offices, the Student Government Office, Social Committee, the International Student Council, the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Council Office, the Graduate Student Organization, the Community Sevice Office, and various conference rooms and lounge areas. You can also see some students from various clubs working at the computers and tables in the common work area next door. These organizations that used to do things backpack-style now have locker storage space for their records and supplies and workspace that includes computers, printers and fax machines.
To the right, we see the great new multi-purpose hall. Although it is divided-up into three sections today for some events that are going on, tomorrow night's concert, it will be opened-up to its full seating capacity that is larger than Alden Hall. Thank goodness the sound and lighting crew from L&L has a place next to the freight elevator to house the equipment for the show. It should make things go a lot smoother.
Let's see what's down on the garden level. Mmmm - A food court with lots of great food! I'm hungry, let's go grab a snack. I don't want to eat in the dining area though, so perhaps we could eat outside on the patio or over in the grotto area? If we eat in the grotto area, we could shoot some pool or watch television. Then, we can go down the hall and check our mail at the new Central Mail facility.
Before heading out, let's go back up to the quad level where we came in and sit for awhile by the fireplace in the lounge. That's by far one of my favorite places in the Center. In the cold winter months, it'll be a welcome feeling to my chilly fingers and toes after trudging through the snow to class. Isn't it beautiful with the flames reflecting off of the glass?
Well, that's about it. Of course, we've only touched the tip of the iceberg. There are many areas we didn't even begin to explore. But, I hope this journey gave you a taste of what this building will mean to us. It's not just another building, it's an expression of our community. It's, in effect, a new addition to our home.Maintained by firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: May 17, 2007 11:18:00