Friday, April 1, 2016

Bearkat Plaza: Onward and Upward

Existing for almost a full decade, Bearkat Plaza had become an important outdoor area on campus, home to pep rallies, Homecoming and Founders Day events, and of course the annual Tree of Lights. Now, as Today@Sam notes, during the quarterly meeting of the Texas State University System Board of Regents in May, there is a possibility of expansion in an unexpected direction:
Traditional expansion of Bearkat Plaza is all but impossible, being landlocked between the LSC, Lee Drain Building, and Smith-Hutson Business Building. Plans are underway to expand in the only way possible: up.

The current plan calls for a total of 16 steel pillars to be installed, four at each of the plaza’s "corners", as well as a central column, that support the glass ceiling/flooring. Sections of the flooring will be tinted to allow students protection "from above and for below' that will nearly double the size of the existing mall area. Glass keeps the sunlight shining on the flower boxes and arbors already installed below.

Planned amenities include two glass elevators, a catalpa green house, terrace seating, and artwork.

Every school year the subject comes up,” said Ralph Bicchiere, associate member of Facilities Planning & Construction. “We’ve created something special in the heart of campus and we want to cherish that.”

Bicchiere says the industry’s highest standard products, including Saint-Gobain Diamant low iron glass, will be used, and that in the end it will create something unique and special not only in Huntsville but in also in Texas.

Design documents were developed by Dawan, Shumac, and Wichoski, Architects and Planners, Inc., of Mentone, with a budget of $8.2 million. The project will totally funded by the Lower Education Assistance Fund and a possible increase in faculty dental fees.

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