Davies changes in final planning stage

The Davies Redevelopment committees are nearing the final stages of planning for the new Davies Center.

The committee plans to approve the dimensions and budget for each of the two building options at its Dec. 9 meeting. The two options are to either build a new Davies Center or renovate and add on to the current Davies Center.

However, Amber Luther, an architect for the Davies Center project with Burt Hill of Philadelphia, has emphasized that the plans are not “set in stone.”

In January, the committee of architects and student, faculty and staff representatives plans to select one of the options and then determine the site.

Luther conducted a student survey earlier this semester with 1,200 students responding, an 11 percent response rate. Luther and Burt Hill colleagues also hosted 15 focus groups for students to voice input.

Based on input results, the redevelopment committee has been collaborating on the details for the new student center in weekly meetings. At a building committee meeting on Tuesday, members reviewed the primary goals of the new Davies Center – to provide more lounge and meeting space, more room for student organizations, add a multi-purpose room and a second ballroom, and expand the bookstore, administrative space, Dining Services and The Cabin.

Dining Services in Davies would offer a la carte, while the buffet in Hilltop would be removed to accommodate an anytime marche-style cafeteria, where students would pick their own ingredients and watch chefs prepare food made to order. Options for the a la carte services have ranged from Taco John’s to Erberts and Gerberts, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts and organic options.

David Porter of Porter-Kohova Consulting has determined the existing dining space in Davies is 20 percent undersized to meet student needs. To better facilitate the 2,753 daily transactions during the lunch peak, Porter concluded that dining services would need to expand to 35,290 square feet.

The “organizational suite” would host both Student Senate and student organizations separately. A student focus group had initially opposed adding a theater, but changed its mind after visiting the student centers at UW-Stevens Point and UW-Oshkosh. Based on that visit last month, students determined they wanted to add a multi-purpose room with tiered seating, but without a stage, to use for classes, lectures, movies and meetings.

Student Senate Chief of Staff and Treasurer Michael Umhoefer said that funds from the recently student-approved green initiatives account could help support constructing an energy-efficient building, specifically in installing a green roof.

Several staff members at Tuesday’s meeting expressed concerns that a fitness room with showers and lockers was no longer included in the building plans.

Student Senate President Tim Lauer said students had told him that they already had enough fitness facilities on upper campus. Because the new Davies Center would be funded with student segregated fees, Lauer said it would not be “appropriate” for an amenity be added in a student center for the primary benefit of faculty and staff.

Hellwig said supporters of adding a fitness room in the new Davies Center could revisit the idea at the next meeting.

Some students have voiced concerns over plans to move Printing Services offices in Schofield Hall to the new center. The move is currently not listed in the most recent itemized budget for the new Davies Center. The Davies Redevelopment Steering Committee plans to discuss the issue at its Tuesday, Dec. 9, meeting. The specifics of reinventing Dining Services in Davies and Hilltop centers are also on the Dec. 9 agenda.