Old building, new changes

Plans becoming more serious about renovations on the Rankin Center after months of planning

Rankin Renovation: Offices of Telecommunications, including the Student Technology Services (STS), moved their offices over to Rankin Center in a newly renovated office near the stairs to Westveiw. The plans for the remainder of the renovation are currently being finalized. Photo By: Tori Thomas | Photographer
As there have been many conversations about the renovation of the Rankin Center, steps are currently being taken to finalize the plan.

The visioning phase of the planning process has been completed and the university has received a final report from the consulting firm of Brailsford & Dunlavey, according to ferris.edu/UCrenovation (an informational website designed to keep people updated on the progress).

“At this time, I envision there will be significant renovations and possibly some addition [to the building],” Michael Hughes, associate vice president for the physical plant, said. “The design process is well underway. The project is currently only authorized for programming and preliminary design.”

In 2011, the visioning task force for the new university center sat down with students, faculty and staff to collect input about what they wanted to see incorporated into the plan.

Much of the conversation resulted in easier navigation around the building, as well as more opportunities for students such as study rooms, lounges and social areas.

Kevin Casey, Ferris junior in plastic and polymer engineering and technology, agreed.

“I would like to see more areas for students to hang out and something similar to the market on that side of campus to allow students to grab something on the way to class,” Casey said.

Eric Mercer, Ferris senior in technical and professional communication, thinks the biggest downfall for the Rankin Center currently is the poor navigation throughout the building.

“It’s just really hard to navigate through the building. You have to walk all the way around and things end up feeling like they are farther apart than they really are,” Mercer said.

Another thing both Casey and Mercer can agree on is the importance of the artistic presence in the new university center.

For both of them, their fondness for the art gallery is high. Because of the current location and the amount of space provided for the Rankin Art Gallery, neither Casey nor Mercer think the interest is where it could be.

“The whole building just looks old; it’s very bland,” Casey said. “It would be really cool if they put some color and creativity on the walls. If the art gallery was larger and more welcoming, I feel like more students would go and check it out. I just think they should make the whole thing architecturally pleasing to the eye.”

According to Hughes, the plan is to take a proposed scope and budget to the Board of Trustees at their Nov. 2 meeting to request full approval for the project. If accepted, the Board of Trustees will then provide full project authorization and funding, allowing the university to complete a final design, bidding and start construction.

“The current schedule calls for construction to start summer 2013 and be completed for occupancy August 2014,” Hughes said.

For more information or updates on the Rankin Center Renovations, visit ferris.edu/UCRenovation.