Committee considers renovations to university soft space

Some of Butler University’s soft spaces may soon be receiving a face lift, pending approval by university officials and input by students at an upcoming “furniture fair.”

Council on Presidential Affairs Chair Mike Tirman heads the soft space committee, which was put together by CPA to plan and research areas on campus that could be remodeled.

Soft spaces are any public areas on campus that students can use to hang out, relax or use for either personal or collaborative studying, Tirman said.

The soft space committee will present plans to members of the administration this Thursday, Tirman said. If the plans are approved by the administration, the Butler leadership board and the Board of Trustees, improvements to soft spaces will be made.

Senior project manager Craig Hardee said that the areas of focus for upcoming renovations include the third floor lounge and areas at the tops of the stairs in Jordan Hall; Gallahue Hall’s atrium, commons area and the area in the basement; at the foot of the stairs of Irwin Library; and, most prominently, soft spaces in residence halls.

The committee also has looked into adding learning technology into some of the collaborative soft spaces, such as a Steelcase media space, but Hardee said the price is restricting.

Renovations also will be made to the tower conference room in Atherton Union, the commuter lounge and the computer lab, Hardee said.

Hardee said that “soft goods” are the primary focus. These include lounge chairs, study chairs, booths and accessories like ottomans.
Various retailers will be bringing their merchandise to campus to have an open forum on Nov. 30.

Students will be able to test various furniture pieces and provide feedback cards, which will provide insight to the committee on which pieces to purchase, Tirman said.

Kelsey Norris, a freshman accounting and management information systems major, said new furniture is needed.

“I think ‘soft space’ is a little bit ironic because the chairs don’t tend to be very soft,” she said.

Tirman said that the role soft spaces play in students’ social and academic lives make them a priority to keep up to date.

“I think this soft space [renovation] is a beginning step to making sure that student facilities are not just adequate but nice and really something you can be proud of,” he said.

Katie Cessa, a freshman exploratory studies major, expressed similar feelings as Tirman on the importance of keeping soft spaces updated.

“I like soft spaces [at Butler], because it is easy to meet with people, because they know where the spaces are,” Cessa said. “I think they need to be kept up to a certain standard. If they don’t, people aren’t going to use them.”

Hardee also said that the remodeling project also includes carpeting, paint and light renovations and adding additional power outlets to existing soft spaces.

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