With a newly redesigned space better suited for the new student body, students at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee looking to hang out on campus are experiencing a radical change this year.
The $1.6 million student commons project got underway after classes finished in the spring and was ready just in time for students who returned for classes on Aug. 22. Campus officials gathered Monday for a formal ribbon-cutting.
Student government president Andrew Becht said the commons have been met with approval so far.
“It’s a radical change from last year and everyone’s pretty pumped about the year moving forward,” he said.
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6,900 The number of square feet the new student commons occupies at USFSM.
Not only the student government president, the 22-year-old senior is a member of the first freshman class at USFSM, which only started accepting freshman and sophomore students in the fall 2013 semester. Previously, USFSM had only served upper-level students who transferred in to finish up their degrees.
With the changing demographic, officials quickly realized the new type of students needed their own space, regional chancellor Sandra Stone said.
“Our newer students wanted to be here more during the day,” she said. “This is the closest thing to a student center we could offer at this point in our history.”
The student commons runs between the main lobby area on the first floor of the main building on campus back through to Jonathan’s Cafe. Since the project was a renovation of an existing area, which mainly looked like a connecting corridor, it required Harvard Jolly Architecture to get creative, said principal Phil Trezza.
“You had no connection to the exterior, you were kind of in this corridor,” he said.
The people who were going to be using this space needed to make the space.
Andrew Becht, USFSM student government president
So they opened the area up, bringing in more light from the exterior and added some transparent elements. Overall, Trezza said he was happy with how the project turned out.
The project, approved last year by Student Government and USFSM’s senior leadership, was funded by capital improvement trust funds and student activity and services fees collected over several years.