Students at Hendrix have long been accustomed to train horns blaring at 2 o’clock in the morning, the rattling music in Martin, and even the occasional emergency vehicle siren flying past on Harkrider. However, the monotonous sound of construction has joined the symphony of everyday noise here on campus. In the past few weeks, the frame of the new Welcome Center has gone up behind Galloway Hall.
In September of 2016, Hendrix College finished raising $2 million to meet a $1 million challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation. The Mary Ann and David Dawkins Welcome Center is expected to be completed in the fall semester of 2017.
“Our goal is to have the admissions and financial aid folks move in over the [Winter] Break [of 2017],” President Bill Tsutsui said.
The admissions and financial aid offices are currently located in Ellis Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus. The school hopes to retain the charm of Ellis Hall without sacrificing the practicality of a 21st-century facility.
“There are some parts of Ellis Hall that you want to save,” President Tsutsui said. “It’s very personal space. It’s not an overwhelming space. It feels warm. But it’s a really crowded building.”
A short stroll through Ellis Hall reveals some flaws beyond its historic charisma. The offices sit side by side, which causes privacy issues when families come in to discuss financial aid.
“[Admissions] needs better surroundings to do their job,” President Tsutsui said. “The new building is not going to be grand. It’s not going to be a fabulous monument or temple, or something like that. I hope that it’s going to feel like Hendrix.”
When Bobby Engeler-Young designed the new Welcome Center, he kept this in mind.
“If you want Hendrix-y, Bobby is Hendrix-y,” said President Tsutsui.
The main room of the two-story welcome center will feature high ceilings paired with an indoor balcony on the second floor. A large piece of etched glass will act as a screen for a projector to display photos of the campus and students.
“We wanted to do something that was cool but not the same technology stuff that a lot of schools do that is out-of-date the minute it gets installed,” President Tsutsui said.”[Engeler-Young] really went to town with designing something that will be cool, that we can update, and that will be timeless.”
One side of the first floor will feature a living room with couches and a fireplace. A large presentation hall will fill the other side. The upstairs will hold the admissions and financial aid offices.
“[The Welcome Center] should feel welcoming rather than overwhelming,” said President Tsutsui.
The school also plans on pursuing LEED Certification for the building. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, has created the chief standard for environmentally-friendly buildings. Tsutsui believes that LEED certification is especially important on campuses like Hendrix.
“Sustainability is a big topic [on campus],” said President Tsutsui.
The certification requires the construction and design of the building to hit key standards in categories like light-pollution and water and electricity usage.
“One neat thing with the LEED certification is that they’re going to provide some educational materials and actually come in and help train the students about what’s LEED in the building and our walk-guides what’s LEED so they can incorporate that into their talks with prospective students and [their] parents,” said Courtney Corwin, the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff at Hendrix College.
The eco-friendly welcome center will provide a place for prospective students to learn about the school while experiencing Hendrix’s commitment to sustainability firsthand.
“It changes the front door of campus. It puts the activity back in the center of campus,” said Rob O’Connor, the Associate Vice President for Marketing Communications.
Featured Photo by Konrad Witkowski