Billings to get a makeover

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Billings Library is pictured April 3. The building will be undergoing a multi-million project to relocate departments and offices. BEX ADAMS/The Vermont Cynic

A new multi-phase project will both create and relocate student services and University offices.

Starting next week, the Billings Library basement will be undergoing renovation alongside the ongoing construction of a new dining hall, dorm and STEM building.

The construction will also impact the Davis Center, which will be renovated this summer to make room for new organizations, said Annie Stevens, vice provost of student affairs.

Before construction begins on the whole building, the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service Learning need to relocate from the upper floors of Billings, Stevens said.

The Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service Learning supports community-engaged learning, according to its website.

The Office of Sustainability will move above the Office of Student and Community Relations on Colchester Avenue. The Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service Learning is moving to Harris Millis to be closer to the Dewey House for Community Engagement, Stevens said.

A University Tech Center will be built in the bottom floor of Billings to give students easier access to technological help near the future STEM Center, Stevens said.

Consolidating all of the University’s tech services into one space will increase efficiency for students and the tech center manager, she said.

The CatCard Service Center is moving into the old WRUV space in the basement of Billings, Stevens said.

The space in the Davis Center where the CatCard center used to be has been emptied out, and will be the location of the new SGA Peer Advising Center, she said.

The Career Center is being moved from the Living/Learning Center to a space next to the bookstore on the second floor of the Davis Center, according to a Feb. 18 Cynic article. The ALANA Student Center will be moving to the old Career Center space in Living/Learning, Stevens said.

The Career Center is being relocated to the Davis Center is so that it’s closer to the Career Hub, Career Fairs and easier to access for employers and students, she said.

Junior Tim Cece is currently a Career Peer Mentor at the Hub, and said he feels bad when he has to tell students the meeting they just rushed to is at the Career Center in Living/Learning, and not in the Davis Center.

“Having to send students across campus to find resources that should all be centralized is a real pain,” Cece said. “I think the new Career Center location will be great, and I love that the new advising space that Jason Maulucci worked so hard on will be right next to the Hub as well.”

In addition, the Christ Church Presbyterian located next to the Catholic Center near Redstone Campus will be turned into a nondenominational Interfaith Center, Stevens said. The church recently decided not to renew its lease, she said.

All of the construction in this first phase should be complete by August, but ALANA may not be complete until September, as it’s the last move in the “big domino effect,” Stevens said.

“We’re taking spaces we already have and repurposing them for great reasons,” she said.

Cece said he loves that ALANA is being relocated to Living/Learning because he feels the international student population is centralized on Athletic Campus. He said he hates how the current ALANA facility is on the edge of campus, separated from everything else.

“Having the ALANA space be more accessible will definitely help some of those students out by providing more resources to them,” Cece said. “Plus, now ALANA breakfasts will be a lot easier to get to on Friday mornings.”

The reason for these changes is to relocate related services to make it both easier to find important student services and provide more student engagement, Stevens said.

The new changes also help increase the efficiency of many student services, like consolidating the University’s technological services into one area, she said.

The next phase of the project will focus on the rest of Billings Library and special collections currently housed in Bailey Howe.

Special collections will be moved from its locations in the basement of Bailey Howe, a library research annex on East Ave, and two off-site leased locations in Williston in order to bring the collection together in Billings, Mara Saule, dean of University libraries, said.

“Our hope was that we could fit all of special collections in one area, however there are a lot of infrastructure issues in Billings that make things complicated with space planning,” Saule said.

The new home of the majority of the collection will be in the current kitchen of Cook Commons, Saule said. In order to accommodate the amount of books being brought in, compact shelves will be added.

The moving of special collections will not be able to occur until the new dining facilities is open, as the Cook dining hall and kitchen will be replaced by the collection, Saule said.

“Renovation on the main floor of Billings will be complete first, and once dining facility opens up in summer or fall of 2017, then we’ll be able to start work on the Special Collections. Special Collections won’t be able to move until a year later, around fall of 2018,” she said.

In the Bailey Howe basement, the Special Collections will be replaced with an expansion of the Writing Center and the Center for Teaching and Learning Functions, along with staff offices that are currently located on the first floor, Saule said.

Along with Special Collections, a reading and study area will be created in the current North Lounge of Billings with soft chairs and desks for students, she said.

The Humanities Center and Holocaust Center in Old Mill, along with the Research on Vermont Center in Morrill Hall, will be relocated to the Billings Mezzanine, Bob Vaughn, director of capital planning and management, said.

The current Marsh Lounge in Billings will be renovated into a classroom, Saule said.

Bailey Howe Library will also get a small renovation once the new residence hall is complete on central campus, and a bridge will be added connecting the hall to the library’s addition, Vaughan said.

The use of the new addition has not yet been decided, Saule said.

The timeline for this project is still up in the air, Vaughan said. “We had looked at trying to phase the project in Billings to be two phases, and that would only happen if we get the approval from the Board of Trustees to begin the first phase,” he said.

Vaughn said it was hoped the beginning of the renovation would begin this summer, but as it’s not a priority on their meeting agenda, this may not be the case.