by Junelle Hogen
Lane Community College student body President Ashley Jackson, standing in front of more than 200 people on the second floor of the college’s Center Building on Wednesday afternoon, smiled as she thought about what she won’t miss following two years’ worth of major renovations at the building.
“We’ll just forget about the sound of drilling that went on the campus this summer,” she said with a laugh.
But all kidding aside, Jackson said she’s excited about the positive effect she believes the building improvements will have on future students.
“They’re going to come into this building, and they’re going to have dignity,” Jackson said.
After three years of planning, the college on Wednesday celebrated the completion of the $35 million renovation project at the Center Building, located in the heart of campus.
Construction began in June 2014, and the renovated building opened to students and faculty this past fall, three months ahead of schedule.
The project was funded through private gifts to the LCC Foundation and by proceeds from an $83 million bond approved by voters in 2008.
The project was affectionately called the Center for Learning and Student Success, or CLASS, school officials said. The project aimed to remake the center of campus into a “vibrant learning commons” that would increase student engagement, shown by research to help students complete their education.
Features of the project include a new plaza on the formerly dark west side of the building; a new first-floor food court; a renovated Renaissance Room demonstration restaurant and kitchen for culinary and hospitality students; and a new Titan Store bookstore.
The second floor features numerous group study areas, a student help desk tech center, the library, a multimedia lab, a space for student clubs and organizations, a print center, and the Robert Ackerman Tutor Central study center.
The third floor includes a quiet study area, additional group study rooms, a testing center and the second floor of the library.
In all, the project remodeled 97,938 square feet on the first through third floors and added 7,716 square feet for the new Titan Store.
The building is one of the oldest on campus. LCC Foundation President Don Rainer, who attended LCC in his student days before transferring to the University of Oregon, said the Center Building has long lacked for student spaces.
“I do remember spending more time in my car in the upper lot studying than here,” Rainer said Wednesday.
Lease Crutcher Lewis of Eugene served as construction manager and general contractor on the project, and local architectural firm PiVOT, along with Chicago-based Perkins and Will, completed the designs.
LCC President Mary Spilde said more than 60 percent of the project work was provided by local subcontractors.
“It truly was like remodeling your kitchen while still living in your house,” she said about the construction process, which mainly took place over the last two summers.
The 15-year bond approved by voters eight years ago was intended to renovate, upgrade and remodel workforce training and education facilities. So far, it has also been used to remodel several other buildings on LCC’s main campus in south Eugene, for construction of its building in downtown Eugene, for remodeling of its Florence center, and for a number of campus safety renovations.
Wednesday’s grand opening ended in an atmosphere of celebration as the college’s mascot, Ty the Titan, danced down rows of chairs to join Spilde, Rainer and other campus leaders to cut a ceremonial blue ribbon put up in front of the library.
“I feel we’ve come full circle,” said LCC Tutoring Services coordinator Liz Coleman.