The new heart of Winthrop University is coming to life this week with several university departments and student offices moving into their new home.
Though a few tasks remain before the $29 million Anthony J. and Gale N. DiGiorgio Campus Center is fully operational, all fire and safety requirements have been met and the building is ready for occupancy.
An open house for the 128,000 square-foot facility is set for Aug. 27 from 2 to 5 p.m. There will be entertainment, door prizes and samples from the food court. A formal dedication ceremony is set for Sept. 24.
Sydney Evans, a junior, is excited to move from her office located in Dinkins Center - across Oakland Avenue on the edge of campus - into a large suite on the second floor of the DiGiorgio Center in the center of campus.
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The suite has floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the open-air plaza next to the Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education and Wellness Center.
The office suite will be the hub for student organizations. Evans, who is beginning her second year as chair of the Council of Student Leaders, said that having a common space for student organizations located in the heart of campus will have a tremendous impact on what they can accomplish.
Several computer terminals spread out across the carpet. The students also have their own state-of-the-art conference room equipped with flat-screen television monitors for presentations.
Evans said the space is designed to start conversations, an idea she said she picked up from Anthony DiGiorgio, university president.
"We all have good ideas, but it takes pooling our resources together to be more efficient," she said.
Nearby offices include the Dean of Students, the student-run newspaper "The Johnsonian", and Residence Life.
Plugged-in and paperless
Features of the campus center include computer terminals installed over treadmills so users can tend to mundane tasks such as checking their e-mail and never stop walking.
That feature appeals to the plugged-in nature of students and more mature generations, Rebecca Masters said.
"The kids these days are not disengaged from their technology no matter what they're doing," said Masters, assistant to the president for public affairs.
The building will also continue Winthrop's efforts to go paperless. Instead of paper flyers posted to cork bulletin boards, LCD monitors will display news announcements. A nine-screen video wall on the main floor will be used to spread news and televise events.
Other features of the center include a bookstore; a post office; a theater for movies; performances and lectures; and game rooms equipped with everything from Ping-Pong and pool to the latest electronic gaming systems.
Also sure to be a hit, Evans said, is the food court, which features brand-named food vendors such as Starbucks Coffee and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen fried chicken, and a range of cuisines including sushi, burgers, and pizza.
Adding a nice touch in the building's entrance are hanging sculptures by Nikki Patrick, a 2010 Winthrop graduate. The university commissioned the sculptures.
Evans has spent much time at other universities observing their campus culture. She said she has big hopes for the new center and what will happen there.
"People practically live in their student unions," she said, adding that Winthrop students should be warned they can't actually live in the DiGiorgio center.
The idea, Evans said, is to create a space that no one will want to leave, one where there's a conversation taking place for everyone, no matter how big or small.