“The Commons” set for a comeback

Florida A&M University is renovating its University Commons to be more user-friendly for students and faculty.

University officials say the new Commons is going to be well equipped with the latest technology, office space and labs.

“My overall goal for this project is to revive a building in the heart of campus,” said Dave Gilchrest, architect for the project.

According to Charles “Chuck” R. Lewis, III Director of Construction Operations, the commons served as the original cafeteria for the students on campus. In later years an addition was added which gave room for faculty dining. The space was later converted into the social work department.

Through the many phases of the Commons, its new renovation will remain for years after. “The commons will be converted into offices for Enterprise Information Technology and computer teaching labs including foreign language, testing center, math and science,” Lewis said. “It will also have computers for students to use at their leisure.”

The first level of the commons will house a new computer lab. “I am very pleased that there will be a place where students can go to use computers leisurely than using the library,” said Reginald Tooley, a 21-year-old healthcare management student from Memphis, Tenn.

Among other changes, the “Orange Room” will be renovated to be more modern. Sodexho, FAMU’s catering company, is responsible for making these changes. “The Orange room will be renovated to a new food service concept,” Lewis said. The head of the design team could not be reached for comment.

Despite the new renovation, students on the campus do not have a place to eat during the duration of the day. “I feel that there should be another option for students to eat until the new Orange Room opens, said Nicole Cain a fourth year biology student from Cocoa Beach Fla. According to university officials beginning in the fall students will have the option of eating in the presidential dining hall until renovation is complete.

The renovation of the Commons has been in the making for years. “The project has an overall five year time frame from receipt of funding, design and construction,” Lewis said.

According to Lewis this project is estimated to cost $11 million. The first phase is scheduled to be complete in October of this year, the second phase by summer of 2009.

Contact Justin W. Robinson at justinrobinson_3@msn.com