One group of University of Idaho students is not happy with the current student level of the Albertson Building.
“It”s a basement,” said Michael McCollough, program adviser for the student-run marketing firm Vandal Solutions. “It suffers some of the problems that anybody”s basement suffers – a lack of light, the general ambiance of it is depressing, it”s not a space you”re drawn to or a space you want to spend time in.”
McCollough said the Albertson Building was constructed in 2002 without any state funding. It was entirely funded using corporate and alumni donations. With limited funding, classroom space was prioritized, and the study space in the basement was done with minimal and uncomfortable furnishings, exposed pipes and steel beams and poor lighting.
He said Vandal Solutions hopes to propose to improve the Albertson Building”s sparse and underutilized basement in order to attract prospective business students.
Micah Johnson, a student on the team, said Vandal Solutions is currently brainstorming ideas for the basement. He said Vandal Solutions sent out a survey asking students in the College of Business what they wanted to see in the basement. The results suggested most business students wanted a space to come together to work on projects, since the curriculum of the College of Business is so team-oriented.
Johnson said Vandal Solutions is partnering with students from the College of Art and Architecture to put together the proposal, which they hope to present to the dean of the College of Business. If the project is approved, it would likely be funded by alumni donations, just as the rest of the building was, Johnson said.
Courtney Tanner, one of the interior design students on Vandal Solutions” design team, said the group hopes to present a final proposal later this year which.
“I think the bottom line is just it”s a really poor space and its poorly used because of that, so we wanted to make it a space that works for students better,” Tanner said.
Johnson said some of Vandal Solutions” ideas for the basement have including adding technology to conference rooms such as screens and video cameras for video conferencing and presentations, replacing the chairs in the main area with ergonomically-designed furniture, repainting the walls and covering the exposed pipes on the ceiling, and replacing many of the walls with glass to make the space look more open and make it easy to tell who is using the rooms and which rooms are occupied.
McCollough said that he thinks the proposal should be seen not so much as a renovation, but as completing a section of the building that was left incomplete and unsatisfactory for budgetary reasons.
“It”s a little bit like, sometimes, when people buy their first house, the realtor says to them, “and here”s a wonderful basement that when you have the funds you can finish,” and there are elements of our basement that are similar to that,” McCollough said. “We just didn”t finish it the way we finished the rest of the building and so maybe we should be calling it a remodeling, we should call it an enhancement project.”
Ryan Locke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org