Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Stuff!

Everyone loves New Stuff!-- that's why people wait in lines that wrap around the block for miles for a glimpse at the latest iWhatsit and can hardly contain their eagerness for Christmases and birthdays. At Mac, we like a healthy dose of New Stuff! as well. Since starting at Macalester the campus has undergone some significant changes, with more in store-- all of which have seniors like myself shuffling their feet on the recently installed environmentally-friendly water-permeable pavement thinking, "Why do I have to graduate now when there's all this New Stuff! coming up." (*Collective senior sigh*).

Janet Wallace Fine Arts Commons Open House
That water-permeable walkway leads up to the newly renovated Janet Wallace Fine Arts Commons. Previously the space was under-utilized with a warehouse style building housing a small gallery, classrooms and offices. The New! building is the completed first phase of the renovation that will eventually transform the entire Fine Arts complex. In addition to a bigger gallery, the new building features a common area on the ground floor in front of the main entryway that has quickly become a new hotspot for social gathering and study spots. With an open, airy, modern look capitalizing on natural light with large windows and an open floor plan, the commons is a great hangout spot. As part of an initiative to increase foot traffic to the new space the administration inaugurated an early morning pastry and coffee buffet which opens at 9:00 am on weekdays and goes until supplies last (which I can't imagine is very long). The extra enticement to check out the Arts commons was not necessary, but is certainly appreciated by the student body and there may just be a revolution if the practice is discontinued. . .

Retail space for the new store
Other exciting news on the horizon is the consolidation of Macalester's spirit store with the textbook shop. In an earlier blog post I mentioned Common Good Books which moved into the first floor of a college-owned building (the Lampert building) that's across the street from the campus. This same renovation opened up another retail space lot in the same building across the hall from Common Good Books. This space is now under construction as the school prepares to move its college store (now in the basement of the Campus Center) and the textbook store (practically in the attic of Lampert) to this new ground-level retail space. Not only will this make the textbook store wheelchair accessible, but by unearthing the college store from the CC basement, visitors will have an easier time finding it.

But what will happen to all that empty basement space, you might ask? That basement space will be used to expand the student lounge area (just about tripling its current size) to include a cafe, more entertainment options and a versatile stage venue for student events. Best part, Mac hopes to have both the new store and the new student lounge operational by next semester (that means us seniors can get a little taste of what we missed by being born four years too early).

So to recap the New Stuff!: free pastries (yes!) wheelchair accessibility (yes!) and entertainment options (yes!) What more could you really ask for? Maybe an ice rink in front of the athletics building. That would be pretty cool. . .