Rendering of reception area

Since Lerner Hall flung open its perplexing glass doors in 1999, students have complained that for a student center, there is little space in the building for student activities, except perhaps for the occasional pianist trickling out “Claire de Lune.” Space reservation headaches aside, much of Lerner is used for administrative purposes. This summer, much of Lerner 4 will be renovated. Bwog sat in on a student leaders’ lunch today to learn more.

All of Lerner 4 is to become the new Center for Student Advising. Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger said the outcome of four years of planning has been a vision for “one central, visible advising center.” Previously spread over five locations, all advising deans will now have offices in Lerner.

Dean of Advising Monique Rinere spoke of a “nurturing … space for students” that would contribute to the “sense of community.” This being Columbia, community is to be established using colors and furnishings. Gesturing at a colorful diagram (see the gallery below), Rinere said that the myriad small advising spaces would be “punctuated by public spaces” so it “won’t be … like a clinic.” A canopy based on the design of the new Lerner 6 tiles (you know, from that Lady Gaga video– hai, VShow preview!) will spread over the whole space for a sense of unity over the different spaces within the office. Each will have a different design so it’s “not like going to the DMV where you pick a number and go up to a grouchy person who doesn’t really want to help you.”

Instead of entering through a long hallway, there will be a reception desk and waiting area/conference room outside the elevators. Many windows will allow for “tons of light” throughout the space and each advisor will have his or her own office with space for two guests. Four lounges will be named after asking students which “iconically Columbian” names should be used. Bwog suggests Rider Strong Lounge (history lesson: apparently Rider, aka Sean from Boy Meets World, walked around campus with a hoodie and sunglasses for fear of being recognized during his days as an undergrad). There is, of course, the obvious choice– Jonathan Taylor Thomas Rotunda.

Rendering of the seating area

The space issue seemed to be the theme of the meeting since it has been a major concern for Columbia students. There will be several small conference rooms, two medium conference rooms, and one large conference room adjacent to the waiting room. The architect, Stephen Yablon, who also designed the Student Affairs offices on Lerner 6, even provided several suggestions for configuring the spaces for various uses like lectures and tutoring sessions. If all goes as planned, all conference rooms will be available for student use after hours and on the weekends. Details for reservations and scheduling remain have yet to be sorted out.

Since many offices will have to move, there will be minor renovations to Lerner 5 as well. The Office of Multicultural Affairs will move where the lounge with the black chairs is now and the resource area with the computers will be converted into a space that’s more like a conference room. The computers will be moved into an old office in the back. Both spaces will still be available for use by students, though Multicultural Affairs has dibs on the space adjacent to their new offices.

As for the old CSA spaces in other buildings, their use remains TBA. Offices displaced during the renovation will be housed in old CSA offices during the summer and then will move back into Lerner. Shollenberger said that the old spaces could possibly be turned into meeting spaces and that a proposal has been floated to turn them into performance spaces.

The actual renovations will take place this summer. Everyone’s moving out of Lerner 4 on May 19 after graduation and will move back in August 16.

Floor plans and renderings after the jump!

Lerner 4 floor plan