By Derek Woellner —
Next fall, an architect and engineering team will be selected to begin renovation plans for Merle M. Price Commons. The area being renovated includes the main east entranceway and the western half of the first floor.
The $6.7 million project will be entirely student funded. “Housing, Dining and the Student Center will be the three kinds of funding sources for the project, and those aren’t state tax dollars, those are either user fees or segregated fees,” explained Darrin Witucki, Director of the Student Centers (MSC and Price Commons). The card office will also be a source of funding but to a much lesser extent than the other three.
Built in the late 1960s, the dated Price Commons has many issues that will be addressed in the renovation. For one, the main air handler that services the area is nearing the end of its life. “It’s in rough shape in lots of ways,” said Witucki, “sometimes we’re kind of living on borrowed time.”
The renovation will also include new lighting and will look for ways to bring in more natural light. “I think an overall goal right now, in addition to all the infrastructure stuff, is hopefully brightening it up a bit,” said Witucki. “It’s a dark, dark building with kind of a maze of hallways, and we’re looking for some ways to open up the space and make it more fluid.”
Offices, lounges and other rooms will likely be rearranged and resized in order to add fluidity and make the space more functional. Right now there seems to be a Goldilocks problem with the size of the offices. “We have some offices over there that are too big; we have some that are too small,” Witucki said.
An upgrade to the fire protection system will also be made during the renovation. A sprinkler system will be installed through the entire building.
Construction on Price Commons won’t begin until May of 2018 and is expected to be completed in December of 2019. The construction will be done in two phases during the summers of 2018 and 2019 in order to keep the building usable during the school year.