KELSEY RETTKE, Staff Writer
Last week, Round Table briefly introduced the upcoming renovations to the World Affairs Center. The renovations, which will be funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, total $250,000 and will be used for renovating the North and South lounges.
This week, Round Table sat down with Associate Professor and Chair of English Tamara Ketabgian, who is part of the committee tasked with deciding the specifications of what to do with the grant, to discuss the particulars of the renovations and the importance of change.
“We’re hoping to go back to a more aesthetically pleasing and historically consistent look of the building,” Ketabgian said. She also says that the Commission on Space Use Planning along with the Parents Fund decided to emphasize the college’s historic core.
Since the building houses the English and modern languages and literature departments, as well as the “Beloit Fiction Journal,” it will maintain a public atmosphere, while creating more “social spaces” in the two lounges. Ketabgian said that the North Lounge will become more teaching-oriented, with updated technology and a “seminar-style” set-up, while the South Lounge is set to be a meeting place.
“We think we could have small seminars there, maybe like 10 to 12 people with a little table by the fireplace. It would be made up so you could have small meetings—club meetings, departmental meetings—and then some smaller, public talks. And then you would have something, kind of like a smart board, on the wall and out of the way.”
A lot of the funds will go towards updating the technology within the building, adding power outlets for computers and other devices and setting up WiFi. The size of the rooms will not change, but will be re-floored, re-furnished and the ceilings will be raised.
Talk is underway about consulting a designer or an architect for the project “just so it’s done right” says Ketabgian. Her hopes for the future include renovating the basement of WAC and renewing the building.
“The basement is just a dump. Remember this was a library and so basically those were stacks down there. It was never designed for offices. There’s even a classroom by the boiler room. But I see no reason why we can’t get this building up-to-date. And I think that students would also really appreciate it. But it’s important to recognize, I think, that we’re going to be using an excess of this grant just for these two rooms.”
Ketabgian also says that there are many other things in dire need of renovation.
“As grants go, this is nice, but in terms of what the building needs, it needs a lot. But they have also been talking about—and this was in our most recent senate meeting—working on the roof because there’s still leakage, working on air circulation because there’s mold, and the exterior. That wood pathway people often slip on it—so maybe changing how that looks.”
Ketabgian is excited about the change, adding that the humanities at Beloit are finally getting their turn to shine.
“[WAC] a beautiful building. And I think the renovations are really important because the college needs to stress that it values the humanities, too. It has a new, beautiful, up-to-date science center. It has a Hendricks Center for the Arts. I know [Morse Ingersoll] needs some attention—it has gotten some because I know there were roof concerns. But the humanities haven’t had much coming our way in terms of attention to this building for a while. So it’s much appreciated—I hope that [these renovations] are just the beginning.”