Bid for WKU Commons project set for November, First Year Village progresses on schedule

Construction equipment on the site of construction for what will be the First Year Village by Bemis Lawrence hall on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.

Natasha Breu

The demolition of the interior of Helm Library, which began at the end of the spring 2019 semester, is anticipated to be finished by early October, according to Bob Skipper, director of media relations. The goal is to bid construction on the WKU Commons by November and start by late December or early January.

The Commons will be an “intellectual hub where students, faculty, and staff gather to share ideas and engage in active learning,” according to WKU’s website. It is meant to replace Garrett Conference Center and include new dining options. The project is expected to be completed by spring 2021 as a partnership between WKU Libraries and Aramark.

Java City, previously located in Helm Library, is now located in Garrett Conference Center.

Other construction across campus includes the demolition of Bemis Lawrence Hall as the first phase of the First Year Village for the freshman class of 2021, according to a previous Herald article. Two new residence halls will be constructed in place of Bemis Lawrence, and Barnes-Camp- bell will remain a residence hall until its demolition at the end of the 2020- 2021 school year.

Mike Reagle, assistant vice president for student engagement and executive director of housing and dining, said the First Year Village will repurpose Meredith and Zacharias halls to house additional living-learn- ing communities to connect in and out of class experiences.

The two new residence halls will wrap around a “quad” in the middle with independent pods on each floor for students to engage with faculty and staff. These two residence halls will cost more than other residence halls, according to a previous Herald article.

Reagle said freshmen will not be required to live in the First Year Village but all will have the opportunity to.

“Our goal is to provide a diversity of experiences for students with one goal in mind, that we assist them in whatever means necessary to successfully matriculate from one year to the next, and ultimately to graduate,” Reagle said.

Preparation for demolition of Bemis Lawrence has caused the surrounding Pearce Ford Tower lot and a portion of the Gated Regents lots to close down. The University Boulevard lot will serve as housing parking under the HU pass for students living in PFT.

According to WKU Housing’s Twitter account, a viewing area will be available at 9 a.m. on Friday for those wanting to watch the start of the demolition process.

The University Boulevard lot previously served as a commuter lot for students, but the Student Life Foundation developed a new lot for commuters near the top of the Hill at the 1400 block of Park and High streets.

Jennifer Tougas, director of parking and transportation, said this lot contains 365 parking spaces for zone C4. It is served by the Big Red Route for Topper Transit every 15 minutes and can be accessed through the U.S. 31-W bypass by turning onto 15th avenue.

Assistant News Editor Natasha Breu can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow Natasha on Twitter @nnbreu.

Editor’s note: This story incorrectly stated that Helm Library’s renovation would be completed in October. The demolition of the interior to prepare for the WKU Commons renovation will be done in October. The Herald regrets the error.