The addition of workspaces on campus continues to be an issue Texas Tech focuses on. Although, with the near-completion of one building’s renovations, more workspaces will be provided for members of the campus community.
Weeks Hall, a campus building currently under renovation, was opened in 1957 as a women’s dorm and operated through 1991 before closing, Sean Childers, Tech associate vice president for operations, said. The hall has been closed ever since, used on and off over the years as storage.
Weeks Hall is one of the entrance-point buildings, matching Sneed Hall, and creates a certain architectural appeal, Childers said. Several years ago, when Tech needed office space for student services, Weeks Hall came up on the radar.
“There was discussion of, ‘Do we tear down Weeks and then rebuild it as brand new, or do we just renovate the existing hall?’” Childers said.
After doing a full study on the building and finding everything structurally was good about the building, Childers said Tech made the decision to renovate it instead of tear down.
The thought process when renovating Weeks had to consider how the university could create a collaborative environment where students and faculty can intermingle and share ideas and bring forth communicative projects, Childers said.
In the spirit of that idea, the decision was made to gut the whole thing, creating vast open spaces with cubicles, glass cubicles, offices, break rooms and study spaces, Childers said.
Additionally, the space is filled with vibrant colors, different furniture styles and an overall modern feel, hoping to draw students into the space to study, meet with advisers or just hangout, Childers said.
“We didn’t want to create something that we already have on campus, we wanted to create something that drew people to it,” Childers said.
Larry Phillippe, managing director of Tech Student Disability Services and ADA coordinator, said the department has been struggling for some time with space and is excited they finally will have the room to provide students with the resources they need.
“We are currently on the third floor of West Hall, and that can really be a challenge for students with mobility impairments,” he said.
When designing the layout of Weeks Hall, Phillippe said the department was able to give input as to what they wanted in the space. For example, they asked for more individual study spaces and computer labs with access to multiple types of technology.
These two resources will be beneficial for SDS for a couple reasons, Phillippe said.
There are many students at Tech with ADHD, so having a quiet place where they can study without distraction is important, Phillippe said. Additionally, students who suffer from visual impairments benefit from closed caption TVs, which are helpful when taking exams. Both are resources the space in West Hall could not accommodate.
“They did a tremendous job of building in accessibility for all of our students,” Phillippe said.
The TECHniques Center Student Training Program, which is recognized as one of the best in the country, also will have more room in Weeks Hall, making it easier for students to come for drop-in tutoring, Phillippe said.
SDS will occupy the entire first floor, Phillippe said. One wing will be the main SDS office, while the other wing will hold the TECHniques Center.
Another student service finding a new home in Weeks is the Tech Graduate Center, Maryellen Baeza, assistant director of the Graduate Center, said. The staff is ready for a new space that is more accessible.
Right now, the Graduate Center is in the basement of the Administration Building, which can be difficult to get to, Baeza said. The Graduate Center will be located on the third floor of Weeks Hall once it is able to make the move.
There were a couple of important factors that went in to planning how to utilize the space, Baeza said.
“We just want a good gathering space for graduate students, but we also want to make sure the facility is able to accommodate the various workshops we have,” Baeza said.
Additionally, it was very important the staff was able to expand the number of computers they have, Baeza said. Currently, they only have 12 computers but will hopefully be able to expand to 20.
Baeza hopes to increase the traffic through the center when it becomes more accessible in Weeks Hall, she said.
“We hope that with it being more easily accessible and having more space and more resources that we’ll attract more students,” she said.
The Graduate Center staff also hopes to hold more events, such as professional development workshops and more student life events, Baeza said. Overall, the Graduate Center staff is very excited to have more space and resources for their students to utilize.
“We’re very excited to move in and unveil a new center,” Baeza said.
Additionally, Childers said both campus writing centers and Army ROTC will be moved to Weeks Hall, and Human Sciences will have study-space and classrooms in the hall.