Goldilocks and the 11 chairs

Nicole Capozziello

For the last couple of weeks, Downer’s lobby has been a sight to behold. Following a vibrant flurry of pre-election campaigning, the set has shifted as nearly a dozen chairs have been moved into the lobby.
Over the past few days, students have been given the opportunity to try out 11 potential chairs for the new campus center and offer feedback. This action is the latest step of the Campus Center Planning Committee to involve the student body in the progress of the new campus center.
Following an information session on the new campus center Tuesday night, the chairs were moved to Downer, where they will remain through Nov. 12.
Peter Bennett, a student member of the Campus Center Planning Committee, reminds students that the chairs are intended for use in the “dining hall, caf, and other eating components of the new campus center.”
Depending on student feedback, the best-liked chair, or one of similar style, will be chosen to serve in these areas of the building.
With the layout of the campus center decided on and groundbreaking scheduled for the spring, the Campus Center Planning Committee has been able to focus its energy on the specifics of the campus center’s interior.
During a workshop held Oct. 11-12, architects brought along a variety of chairs to the committee for consideration. Committee members were able to sit in each chair and comment on its different aspects.
Student committee member Nathan Litt recalled the event, which he described as similar “to playing musical chairs.”
The members eventually narrowed the selection down to the 11 chairs presented for testing at Downer.
When sampling the chairs, the committee members focused on chairs they felt would be timeless and wouldn’t fade with future generations at Lawrence. The committee hopes to embed this theme of timelessness in all aspects of the building, including the furniture.
Another overlying theme of the campus center’s design is malleability. Each room is to be built with the intent of being able to serve several purposes.
According to Bennett, the chairs are no exception to this flexibility.
“We envision the chairs being shifted around a lot,” says Bennett, who has been involved on the committee since last November. “We want it to be easy for students to arrange the chairs in rows and around tables.”
Similar to the traveling picture boards in the dining halls last spring, the “chair-testing” provides students with the opportunity to have a say in the Campus Center Planning Committee’s decision. However, on top of being able to comment, the students have also been able to physically experience each chair.
In planning, the Campus Center Planning Committee has never underestimated the importance of students’ input regarding the choice of chairs or other decisions regarding the campus center.
Sophomore Jamie Gajewski is excited about this prospect and believes “the involvement of students will make the building much more personal.”
According to the Campus Center Planning Committee, chairs are just the beginning of such decisions. The committee will also be calling on students for comments in future trial sessions concerning the dcor, themes and other furniture.
Litt enthusiastically advises students, “Keep your eyes open for future opportunities and participate.”
For additional information and updates regarding the new campus center, visit lawrence.edu/taskforce/campuscenter.

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