Union gets fresh look, structure work

Freshman Michael Barker said the new paint job on the Marshall Center makes the student union look like someone drank a smoothie and threw up on it. But Joe Synovec, assistant director of Operations for the Marshall Center, said he has received positive feedback on the painting project.

“We’ve heard people like the colors,” Synovec said. “But we’re going to withhold judgment until it’s all done. It looks cleaner and more colorful.”

Synovec said the minor renovation includes not just painting the Marshall Center, but also involves structural work.

“A lot of windows are cracked so when they pressure wash, water comes in so that the air and integrity of the building is shot,” Synovec said. “So they have to go and recaulk or reglaze every one of the 3,000 windows.”

The masonry caulking or the seams that run along the stucco, will be recaulked as well, Synovec said. Missing, chipped or cracked concrete will be sealed so as to prevent water from seeping into the building and causing damage.

In fact, the Marshall Center hasn’t seen a coat of paint added to it since 1989, Synovec said. Generally, engineers recommend painting every seven years, which is the normal shelf life of paint.Although minor renovations abound, the more significant renovation to the Marshall Center has been put off for the last four years because of funding issues.

“Four years ago, students were willing to use their A&S fees to do it (finance the renovation), but it was decided that A&S was not the best way to go and we should go with CITF (Capital Improvement Trust Fund),” said Synovec. “They felt that construction should come out of CITF versus A&S.”

Although they wanted to use the CITF, the money wasn’t enough to finance the renovation, which is expected to cost around $48 million.

“Therefore, there was needed some legislative changes,” said Synovec. “And because of all of the changes in the last year or two with the Board of Trustees and reorganizing the whole education system in Florida, CITF fees has not been a high priority for the state.”

Under the renovation proposal, 100,000 square feet would be added to provide bigger meeting rooms, a bigger food court and bigger ballroom, Director for the Marshall Center Guy Conway said. In general, more space is needed to accommodate the student population.

“This structure (the Marshall Center) was built in 1960, and the SEC was added in 1990,” Conway said. “The student population has significantly gone up since that time. And, in fact, our professional organizations recommend 10-square feet per student for a student union.

“This building and the SEC together add up to be about 165,000 square feet. If we had a building that was as big as what that would propose, we would need 280,000 square feet because we have over 28,000 students on this campus,” said Conway.The painting of the Marshall Center and the Special Events Center alone will cost $142,937. But with structural work, the total bill rises to $226,022. The money used to fund the minor renovation came from CITF funds.

Every semester $2.44 per credit hour of a student’s tuition goes toward the fund.

The colors, dark salmon and pale pink, were probably chosen to blend in with the surrounding buildings, Synovec said.

“They (the colors) blend in with the whole scheme they’ve (Facilities Planning and Construction) been doing with Holly, Kosovo and the Physical Education building, Synovec said. “So, it’s just the new decor of the campus, I guess.”

Other minor renovations to the Marshall Center are in the works, as well. Gone are the pink wobbly tables, the orange and blue wooden chairs that had a tendency to break when leaned upon.

The Marshall Center has already been repainted, recarpeted and bought new furniture for the meeting rooms used mainly by student organizations on the first floor. They’ve also ordered green and gold drapes for the rooms.

The Marshall Center intends to work themes into each of the rooms to create a livelier more school-spirited atmosphere.

“One room we’ve already done is Room 6 down in the Lower Level,” Synovec said. “We’re going to call it the Conference USA Room.”

The room includes vinyl signs of all the teams, statistics on how many conferences USF has won, and how many conference finals USF has played, Synovec said.

This semester, the Marshall Center will begin working on themes that range from the “Spirit Room,” which focuses on alumni, cheerleaders and the green and gold towel guys, to a room focused on the academic and research side of campus.

There will also be a theme of diversity and multiculturalism at USF.

“Rather than solid walls, we’ll use a combination of photos and collages to show what USF is all about,” Synovec said. “So that when a student walks in it’s obvious that this is USF. It’s not just a sterile conference meeting room.”

The Tacky Spot, the hallway next to Good Eats and the Information Desk, will be moved to the Tampa Room and given an entirely new look. At this time, no concrete plans exist, just ideas, Synovec said.

“We want to make it more of a lobby look vs. a mob of papers,” Synovec said. “We’re just trying to add a little more class to the facility.”

  • Contact Erika Pratesiat oracleerika@yahoo.com