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LaFortune cluster opening pushed back

Irena Zajickova | Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Students hoping to be able to use the LaFortune Student Center computer cluster will have to wait for a few more weeks.

Shipping delays have slowed the renovations, pushing the tentative opening date back a month, said Brian Burchett, Classroom and Computer Lab Spaces manager for the Office of Information and Technology (OIT).

“We had thought originally that it would be done around [Feb. 1], but we ran into two issues that delayed it,” Burchett said. “The furniture order was delayed until this week but the bigger obstacle right now is that the carpet order took longer than expected.”

Burchett said the carpet is supposed to arrive on campus next week, and if all goes as planned, the cluster should reopen sometime during the first week of March.

“We never intended it to be out of service this long and we know that students are really eager to have it back,” Burchett said. “It will be back soon, and we think that students will really like it.”

The renovation is “a facelift with a few new things added,” Burchett said. The changes include a smaller service counter, two group study rooms and individual workstations around the cluster’s perimeter.

There will also be furniture in the middle of the cluster so students can bring their own laptops and work individually or in small groups. A window will also be installed in the door that separates the cluster from the adjoining East Lounge to connect the two rooms visually.

Burchett said the room will be more cheerful as well as more eco-friendly.

“I think that before it was really dark. I think it’s got a much happier color scheme,” Burchett said. “The lighting is bright and the lighting is also much more energy efficient now.”

The plan to renovate the LaFortune computer cluster began in the spring semester of 2008. Burchett and other OIT staff members worked with architecture students on the project.

“The things the students came up with were really awesome designs. We had to cut some of their aesthetic ideas,” Burchett said. “We kept as much as we could but some of the things they wanted to do just would have driven up the cost of the project. I think we kept the essential things — the group work space and reclaiming some of the wasted space.”

Burchett said working with the students was a success and he hopes to bring more students in to help with renovation and design projects in the future.

“[Working with the architecture students] was really a lot of fun and its the sort of thing we’d like to do again, whether its an architecture class or an industrial design class,” Burchett said. “I think it adds a certain energy to the project when we can bring in the students in that fashion.”

According to Burchett, the furniture in the cluster had not been upgraded for 18 years, making the renovation a top priority.

“I think when it’s all put together its going to be a much happier place to work,” Burchett said.