Photos by Samantha Feld
Students walk on it every day, passing over it while bustling to and from class. Some study on it, some picnic by it, while others nap on its grassy knoll.
The Specht, or more affectionately known as The Sundial, is a part of every student’s life. It’s been a meeting place for rallies, a gathering area for group studies - it’s unavoidable and central to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus.
But the Specht is in dire need of repair.
“The concrete that make up the plaza has numerous cracks, spalls and trip hazards requiring the entire concrete area and sidewalk approaches to be replaced,” said Director of Facility Planning Carl Rasmussen.
Plans are underway to restore and also renovate the central sundial area. Although these plans are still in the conceptualization and consensus stage of the process, the Facility Planning Department and administration feel it wise to redesign the area in the process of repairing it.
“If the campus is going to spend the hard earned capital improvement dollars, we want to be very sure to ask the right questions about what would go back if you had a chance to dig it up,” said Senior Campus Designer Douglas Kozma.
Chancellor Bernie Patterson expressed his concerns about contracting to an outside source for renovations; that the possibility of the spirit of UWSP was being captured by a foreign company.
With estimated goals of moving the project into construction by next summer, the selected landscaping company JJR is taking the painstaking steps to fulfill Patterson’s requirements by spending as much time as possible gathering the input of students, faculty and administration about what they would like to see in the new sundial.
On Tuesday, Site Designer Stacey Leonard set up a kiosk in the Dreyfus University Center Concourse to give students the opportunity to give their input to the company directly.
“I think everyone was very excited about it and we got a lot of feedback,” Leonard said.
JJR intends to take characteristics and personalities from each of the different schools of thought here on campus while also creating a functional gathering point for all stude nts to find something useful or attractive.
“We want to create a ‘living room’ of the campus,” said Brian Peterson, JJR Associate.
Functionality is very important to the JJR team as well, whether it be a functioning sundial to bring uniqueness to the campus or a power hub to plug in laptops, the ultimate design goal is to have purpose as well as to create an icon for the university.
“We’ll see what comes out of this design process with some basic guidance to protect views of the TNR building mural, allow for large group gatherings, provide some shade, provide some education opportunities and generally invite students and the public to linger,” Rasmussen said.
To accomplish this, JJR understands that they need to find out what it is that the people who live here, work here and study here want. They will make several return trips to campus to gather data of popular opinion, returning to their headquarters and refining the designs, then repeating the process.
“This is a four or five month exercise, it’s methodical and it involves lots of people to build consensus,” Kozma said.
For more information about the company, visit their website at www.jjr-us.com or information about the project can be found in the Facility Planning website on the University Homepage.