Architects will begin planning renovations for the LBJ Student Center in November, the first step in determining future improvements for the building.
The renovation process is led by LBJ Student Center Director Jack Rahmann, who will decide what changes will be made to the building and how they will be implemented. Rahmann said the renovations process is still in the programming phase. University officials are meeting with students and faculty to see what they want out of a new facility, he said.
The design phase begins in November when architects will start writing plans and construction companies will bid on the project, Rahmann said. The design phase will take nine months to a year to complete, he said. It will take a good deal of planning and design work before the architects can “bring the vision to life,” he said.
Rahmann said that above all, it is important to involve as many people as possible in the planning process.
“We need to bring all stakeholders to the table,” Rahmann said. “Then we find out what (their) priorities are for the building and how it’s used.”
Rahmann said the student center will be larger after the redesign because the current size is less than the average at other universities in the region. He said while the regional average is about 8 square feet per student, the LBJ Student Center has about 6 square feet per student.
Because of this, the university needs more room for everyday activities, student programming, a new ballroom and more area for performances and events, Rahmann said. Administrative space has reached its capacity too, he said.
“(We must) meet growing needs, (add) volume, (reduce) lines and provide new options,” Rahmann said.
Expanding the student center’s food service options is a significant aspect of the renovations, he said. Rahmann said he hopes a number of new restaurants will open after the renovations are complete.
Rahmann said he does not know if student fees might increase to finance construction because the budget is not prepared yet. He said that information will become available during the design phase of the project.
Norma Gaier, director of Career Services, which is housed in the student center, said she thinks the renovations are a good idea.
“I’m excited about the renovations,” Gaier said. “We’re due for a face lift.”
Gaier said a lack of space for Career Services functions is an issue too. Gaier said Career Services is hosting its latest job fair over a two-day period because there was not enough room to fit everyone in a single day.
“It would be fabulous if we could extend our ballroom,” she said.
Expanding the office space of Career Services is something the organization will benefit from, Gairer said. She said it would be “phenomenal” if more offices are built.
There currently is space for five to six employers to interview in the Career Services offices, and they could use addition space, Gairer said. Career Services needs more space so the organization could increase its already high rate of employment for students, she said.
Brenda Lenartowicz, interim associate director for Campus Activities, said the amount of space her organization needs should be assessed. She said Texas State enrollment has grown exponentially in the four years she has worked here, so now is the right time to see if the building should be expanded. Student organizations use meeting rooms, and those are expensive to rent out, so having the space to meet somewhere else is important, Lenartowicz said.
However, there may be some issues with constructing a bigger student center, Lenartowicz said.
“We have unique limitations,” Lenartowicz said. “(The student center) can’t expand sideways or out.”