With the first semester well underway and most of the UC renovations complete, the first floor is still under significant construction. Over half of the floor is blocked by a restricted hard-hat area. It is flanked on two sides by temporary entrances to the construction site. The only accessible areas are Crossroads and the narrow hallway to Outtahere.
The construction site is what will soon be the new USF bookstore location.
For now, the USF community must deal with the less-than-direct course from one end of the floor to the other. If people want to visit Outtahere from another part of the University Center (without exiting the building), pedestrians have to walk through Crossroads lounge and a few doors to the proceeding hallway. The path, however, is only accessible during Crossroads open hours.
According to the posters on display outside the site, the expected completion date is summer 2011. However, Project Manager J.J. Thorpe confirmed that “the plan is for much of the first floor work to be completed for use in December of 2010.”
Thorp said general construction of the UC building began in February. Student input had partly shaped some of the renovation designs. The first floor, however, had not begun until summer.
To date, Thorpe said construction has been proceeding according to schedule.
USF Bookstore Manager Carrie Kiryakakis said, “We are very much looking forward to having a bit of breathing room in the new space.”
The future site of the bookstore will have a completely new configuration. The first floor retail space will feature some changes that Kiryakakis said would “add to the student experience.” This includes more cash registers, a different setup for online book orders (more efficient than the current model), a streamlined textbook buyback process, and a “flex space” for hosting small student gatherings and readings.
The move from the base of Phelan Hall to the University Center will “ideally be just a few days” Kiryakakis said. Students will be given notice when bookstore services will be down during the move.
For now, Kiryakakis said she’s excited. The new space in is an opportunity to function as a better retail space.
Before opening in December, decisions will be made to determine what will be placed in the remaining space, like lockers.
Despite the odd pathway from Outtahere to the University Center staircase, students are not bothered by the ongoing construction.
For Junior Francois Jean-Toves, the most inconvenient part of the construction is the loss of the first floor restrooms. The nearest restrooms are located on the second floor near the Market Café entrance.
Senior Ashley Hoskins said Crossroads is “like going to a dark dungeon.” Even before construction, Crossroads suffered from a lack of natural light due to its location on the lowest level of the University Center. The corridor which provided the faint source of light to the lounge has now been absorbed into the hard-hat area, making an already dimly-lit place even darker.
However, freshman McKenna Taylor feels slightly disoriented from the continuing renovation. “Just when you’re starting to know where you are, things change around again,” she said.
Before contractors began work on the site, the first floor housed the Student Leadership and Engagement and the Senate offices for ASUSF. Both have been relocated to the fourth floor.
Other features that have been removed have been the corridor that served as a student exhibition hall and a seated eating area. Those elements have now disappeared behind the erected barriers of an indoor construction site.
Only Crossroads student lounge, Outtahere, and the Green and Gold Room remain.
Summer 2010 found the university campus dotted with extensive renovation projects. The fourth and fifth floors received a thorough overhaul, complete with the removal of entire walls and rooms with the addition of new ones. The second floor’s Market Café was transformed from a dimly lit series of confined spaces into a spacious, brightly light dining hall.
By the start of the fall 2010 semester, most renovations had been completed, like the removal ofn wall murals lining a third floor corridor and the elimination balcony sections around the building.
Details on the first floor renovation, including floor plans and the contact information for the project manager, can be found on display boards adjacent to Crossroads entrances on the first floor.
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