By Melissa Schill
The year-and-a-half renovation project in the Student Services Building (SSB) is nearing completion as all departments are scheduled to be moved back in by the end of January.
Although the project was officially approved and started in August 2018, campus architect Bruce Koenigsberg began working on the first designs in 2016. Director of Facilities Scott Okesson has also been involved in the process since the beginning, overseeing building maintenance, design and planning. The renovation as a whole was a $5.7 million project, with $2 million of donor funds going toward the new Center for Vocation and Career (CVC) space on the east side of the building. One of the primary goals of the renovation was to expand the CVC’s footprint. The center went from having 1,500 to 5,000 square feet of space.
“The CVC is really strategic for the college,” Director of Auxiliary Services Tony Dawson said. “We need to help our students and graduates find their way after Wheaton, so it was important that the CVC be given more space.”
The CVC will be the last department to move back into the SSB. Their move-in process will begin on Saturday, Jan. 25, and the following days will be spent unpacking and training their staff in the new location. “Because this is a completely new space to us, we want to be certain we are fully operational when we open our doors to students,” CVC Director Dee Pierce said.
Their official reopening will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30. Students will be able to tour the new space, grab some snacks, win prizes and network with CVC staff members.
Across from the CVC is the bookstore, now rebranded as the Campus Store. Follett, the company managing the bookstore was independently responsible for the interior renovation of their space. Okesson said that he and the CVC worked closely with Follett through the renovation process, especially when it came to decor. The CVC and the bookstore chose similar color schemes and finishes to give the SSB a cohesive appearance.
The bookstore was last renovated in the 1980s. Campus architect Andrea Petti said that the new space optimizes from the loading dock to the receiving room to the online pickup area to the retail space. The new layout is also meant to streamline student traffic flow during the beginning and end of the semester when students rent and return their textbooks.
“It’s a really unique space, really kind of a modern feel to it,” Follett Regional Manager Danita Kirkegaard said. “All the people that we’ve partnered with so far to make this transition successful have been amazing, so we feel very blessed to be part of the campus community.”
A new hallway runs between the CVC and the Campus Store from the east side of the building to the west side, offering students a shortcut from Soderquist Plaza to buildings behind the SSB such as Blanchard Hall, the Memorial Student Center and Williston Hall.
Although renovations upstairs have been less extensive, the hallway has been straightened out and bathrooms have been added, along with fresh carpeting and paint. All upstairs offices moved from McAlister Hall to the SSB by Jan. 10. In addition to the offices previously based in the SSB, Global Programs and Studies also transitioned from Wyngarden to a new office space on the north side of the building.
“It’s not easy to take a busy building across campus,” Project Manager Bill France said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience through this whole process.”