Photo by Brenda Lin

To increase the visibility of the Ferst Center for the Arts and to otherwise open up the space, Tech is planning to begin construction to improve the area between the Student Center and Ferst.

The construction will resurface the area so that the area between the Student Center, the Smithgall Building—often referred to as the Flag building—and the Ferst Center so that it forms one level plaza rather than a series of concrete steps and surfaces. The construction will also affect the Student Center Parking lot, adding a loading and unloading zone.

“The big change from a transportation standpoint is that currently the way the parking lot is set up is it’s impossible to drop somebody off and then go into the parking lot,” said Jason Gregory, Educational Facilities Planner for Capital Planning and Space Management. “That’s one of the big changes. There’s actually going to be a true loading and unloading zone for passengers and pedestrians to unload out of the car and go into the parking lot.”

A big impetus for the change is making the Ferst Center more visible and accessible.

“About two years ago, there was a study for the Ferst center and how to renovate that and improve it,” Gregory said. “Well, one of the kind of ‘aha’ moments in this process was that no one can really see the Ferst Center, and it’s one of our main public venues.”

The construction was delayed because with the eventual plans to expand the current Student
Center.

“We’re trying to keep our work to the bare minimum because there are plans to renovate and expand the student center, but we don’t yet know which direction it’s gonna go,” Gregory said. “And so we don’t want to do anything that’s excessive but at the same time we don’t know when the student center project’s really going to get going, and we’re making sure that we’re improving the current arrival sequence and making the overall visitor experience better.”

During the construction, while the entrance to the Student Center will not be blocked, there will still be construction-related inconveniences.

“During construction there’s a whole process that we’re going to go through for informing everyone about where the construction is going to be going on,” Gregory said. “It’s definitely an inconvenience, but that’s one of the reasons we haven’t started it yet is we’re trying to figure out the best time to do it so it’s the most convenient it could be for everyone.”

Other improvements include more outdoor seating, additional bicycle parking and possible art installations. A date for construction date has not been set, but one likely start time is during the summer to minimize disruption to students.