By Aubree Robitzer
On Wednesday, KU junior Tiya S. Mahanalobis was diligently editing photographs on her laptop while using the new moon-shaped bench in the recently renovated Bear’s Den.
“It’s a nice space to work because you can plug your laptop into the bench itself instead of plugging it in across the room,” she said.
The space is now a warm glow of KU colors maroon and gold, with rich walnut wood finishes. Lead architect behind the design of the Bear’s Den, Stuart M. Rothenberger said, “We wanted to create a space with a Panera Bread coffee house feel to it.”
As a result of the renovations, the Bear’s Den has grown in size remarkably by removing the KU Card office which was previously at the Student Union Building. The Bear’s Den now provides students with more space for both studying and socializing.
Besides the aesthetics of the space, additions to the Bear’s Den include more power outlets and two projectors upstairs available for student use.
Director of the SUB, Trisha J. Scarcia-King said, “We wanted to give more technological options for the students.”
Mahanalobis and other students are praising some of the changes, but other students have concerns about the changes made to the Bear’s Den. While students are generally very receptive to the technological additions, some complain about the furniture.
Freshman Caroline Faulkner, a regular at the Bear’s Den, said, “It’s appealing to look at, but sitting here for long periods of time is not comfortable.”
When student concerns on comfort were brought to Rothenberger, he responded, “I was just in the Bear’s Den and there was a guy sleeping on one of the high-backed chairs.”
Either the student was exhausted and needed somewhere to sleep, or the seating is actually comfortable enough to sleep on. Regardless, the space is being utilized.
In preparation for the renovations, student involvement was a top priority for both Rothenberger and Scarcia-King. Over 900 students were surveyed to see what they wanted in the new Bear’s Den. The most frequent request on the surveys was more studying space.
The request was answered with more partitioned areas to allow for optimal studying. Whether it’s upstairs or downstairs in the Bear’s Den, there is space for anyone who wishes to study there.
Senior Maranda Miller said, “It’s now a good central place to study that isn’t the Library.”
According to Scarcia-King, the Bear’s Den is the “First Phase” of a four part KU Dining Services renovation. The renovation of the Bear’s Den started in spring 2014 and was finished by August 2014.
This phase was completed first in order to give students more space to study and relax while the Cub Café is renovated from April 2015 until spring 2016. The new Cub Café will be a 24/7 dining space. The café will also be expanded and more food options will be available.
South Dining Hall will be the next big project in dining services after the Cub Café is finished. The entire building will be “gutted”, according to Scarcia-King, with more modern and efficient features.