It's a building unlike anything anyone has ever seen on a college campus - and it's right here in the Quad Cities.
Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois unveiled its Center for Student Life on Wednesday, August 21th, 2013... just in time for the 2013-14 school year.
"We have not seen a building like this on any other college campus," says W. Kent Barnds, Vice President of Enrollment, Communication, and Planning for Augustana. "I think it sets us apart just by its very nature. I think it emphasizes what we believe is most important about our identity as a liberal arts college."
News 8 was on campus in November 2012 when the Center for Student Life was still under construction. Today, the $21 million renovation and expansion project is complete and ready for students.
The renovation part of the project transformed the 4th floor of Augustana's Thomas Tredway Library, which is called "Main Street." When the doors of the elevators open, you will see a bigger Brew by the Slough, the Library's Cafe, as well as the Office of Student Activities, Greek Life, Multi-Cultural Life, International Student Services, and the Reading & Writing Center.
"We've put all of this on Main Street because these are the services we want our students to experience and to have easy access to," says Barnds. "That's why the design of the 4th floor is so user-friendly and student-focused."
Off Main Street is an "avenue" where some of the new construction has taken place. One one side, students can relax by a nearly three-story high gas fireplace. Across the way, up to 700 people can meet in a Multi-Purpose Programming Space that can divide into three separate rooms.
The 5th Floor of the old Library is now Augustana's new Dining Center, a place that Barnds says encompasses what the Center for Student Life is all about.
"This is one of the most visible symbols of what we're trying to do with this building, which is create and be intentional about community, create a space where people will go to see and be seen."
The Dining Center can feed up to 750 students at any given time. It includes 150 new recipes for Augustana's Dining Services, including a grill, The Carvery, Wild Thymes (vegetarian, vegan, and local food), a salad bar, a dessert bar (to be named by students in the future), Bella Luna (features a pizza oven and Italian cuisine), and Global Fusion (Asian-inspired food).
It also features a hydroponic garden, which Barnds says has big potential for Augustana.
"This addition will be our first LEED-certified construction on campus. We are pursuing LEED-silver certification and one of the features that will be a part of that is the hydroponic garden where we will grow herbs which will be used in the dining fare right here in our Dining Center."
Overall, the Center for Student Life is a place Augustana hopes students will come together and continue to learn outside of the classroom.
"This building is going to transform the experience for Augustana students," says Dr. Evelyn Campbell, Vice President and Dean of Student Life. "I can see a total Augustana community coming out of this building unlike what we've experienced before."
"What this allows us to do for the first time is really focus on the growth of the whole person in one place. I'm not sure people realize how intentional we are about what goes on during the evening and the weekend hours to really give students the skills to be a leader, to lead a team, to communicate, to motivate. They are all 'soft' skills, but skills that employers are looking for."
Aside from the Center for Student Life, Augustana College has also completed a two-year, $14 million renovation and restoration of the inside and outside of Old Main. It will be dedicated during Augustana's Homecoming Weekend, on October 11th.
In addition, construction of the Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex and Charles D. Lindberg Stadium at Ericson Field in Augustana is beginning to wrap up. The $10-million project, which Augustana is calling the "Modern Woodmen Park of the Fall," will be dedicated on September 7th.