New Spaces in Elrod Commons The recent renovation of the second and third floors of Elrod Commons has provided staff and students with new and improved workspaces.
The second and third floors of Elrod Commons have undergone a recent renovation, providing students with redesigned spaces for meetings, study and collaborative work and Student Affairs staff with new office and meeting spaces. The design process began in June of 2020 and construction finished in March of this year. Goody-Clancy, the architectural firm involved with the design, worked closely with Facilities Management, Student Affairs and other partners across campus to reimagine the building to better fit the needs of today’s students.
“Student feedback about the renovation has been so positive,” said David Leonard, dean of Student Life. “My favorite aspects of the redesign have been the multipurpose room located on the second floor near the OIE office, as well as the food pantry and clothing closet. The open spaces and comfortable furniture throughout the building have been well-utilized by our students, and by far the best part of the renovation has been the opportunity for more interpersonal interaction and conversation with students and student leaders.”
The newly renovated second floor of the building houses offices and meeting and workspace for the Class of 1994 Office of Inclusion and Engagement (OIE). The clothing closet and food pantry are also located on this floor and were expanded during the renovation.
Tamara Futrell, dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Engagement, said that the new spaces have attracted students to OIE programming who have not attended before. “We have students dropping by to say, ‘We’ve heard about this space and would love a tour,'” Futrell said.
Futrell said that new office and meeting spaces allow ample room for large meetings and gatherings. Offices on the renovated floors of the building were reimagined to provide as much natural light as possible.
The sacred space is utilized by various members of the W&L community for individual or group prayer, meditation or just a moment of calm. Muslim students and employees hold Friday prayers in the space with prayer mats provided by OIE.
“The colors of the space are so warm and inviting,” Futrell said of the sacred space, “and it sits in the trees, like being in a tree house. If you’re in there praying, meditating or just sitting still for a moment of quiet, it is one of the most beautiful places on campus.”
Students gather, host programs and study in the second floor’s central meeting space, which is surrounded by Student Affairs staff offices.
The area outside the sacred space is also a popular spot for studying and congregating between classes.
Campus publications such as the Calyx, the Ring-Tum Phi, and In General magazine share workspace on the second floor. The space is adjacent to the student organization workspace and accesses the outdoor patio overlooking Cohen Amphitheater.
Several years ago, Student Affairs identified a need for a food pantry at W&L that aims to alleviate food insecurity among students by providing emergency food. The Commons renovation shifted and expanded the footprint of the pantry, along with the clothing closet, which provides students access to clothing for interviews, formal events or other needs.
“There has been a significant increase of students using the food pantry and clothing closet since our relocation,” said Fiorela Giraldo Prado de Lewis, who serves as the senior program coordinator for OIE. “Having a permanent, dedicated space has expanded our offerings and broadened choices for students in need.”
The Executive Committee gained new meeting and office spaces, as well as a break room, on the third floor of the building.
“This is a major change from our old office in Early Fielding. Not only does the space contain new technological equipment that enables us to more effectively do our job, but it is also right in the heart of campus,” said James Torbert ’23, Executive Committee president. “This new location has allowed us to better connect with student organizations and make student self-governance a more visible part of student life.”
“The student organization space has been well-utilized for studying and small group meetings and gatherings,” said Leonard. “All registered organizations are encouraged to utilize the room, which is fully stocked with office supplies, colorful butcher block paper and ink markers for promoting campus programs and events, as well as lockers for storing club and organization materials.” Leonard hopes students will continue to utilize the space and provide Student Affairs with feedback about ways to improve it.