College to renovate Florestano, Dragun after programs move to new building


Dominic Salacki

David Phan, a third-year landscape architecture student, served as a temporary “just ask” employee, answering questions about the new Health and Life Sciences building at the start of the semester. He talks with with a Chick-fil-A representative who helped open the the restaurant inside the new building.

Dominic Salacki, Editor-in-Chief

The Florestano building on West Campus has been empty since the summer, when the campus health programs that once were housed there moved into the new Health and Life Sciences building on the Arnold campus.

The Dragun building is partially empty after losing its life science programs to the new, 750,000-square foot structure.

The college will renovate both buildings in a project that could take several years, Melissa Beardmore, vice president for learning resources management, said.

The Florestano renovation will begin on the fourth floor.

“If the stars align, I think [the fourth floor of Florestano] should be open in 18 months to two years,” Beardmore said.

That top floor will become a Learning Innovation Center, with “spaces for faculty to experiment with and/or teach in an environment where they have both online and in-person students,” Beardmore said.

Renovations to the building’s lower three floors will follow, she said.

“Our thinking is that we will use the first through third floors as a one-stop shop for student services,” Beardmore said.

Offices from the Student Services Center, like advising, the cashier, records and registration, and financial aid, eventually will move there, she said. Self-serve kiosks will allow students to take care of campus-related business on their own.

“It’s like when you go to the grocery store and use self-checkout, or you go to a bank and you just conduct your banking business through a computer,” Beardmore said. “We’ll have both in-person and technology-enabled services for students.”

Designers, she said, are “think[ing] about how we can design the space to best serve students.”

A renovation of Dragun is “further down the road,” she said, and will include an addition to the building. “We’d renovate what’s there and we’d add on.”

The biology and anatomy and physiology programs moved from Dragun to the Health and Life Sciences Building over the summer.

Faculty offices, labs and classrooms for the math department eventually will move from the Math Building into Dragun once renovations are complete, Beardmore said. Dragun’s new name will be the Dragun, Math and Physical Sciences building.

According to Beardmore, preliminary plans for Dragun include a 28,000-square-foot addition on the side of the building that faces the Careers Center. The new space will include labs for chemistry, physical sciences and computer science, along with classrooms, offices, group study rooms and informal learning spaces.

Student Government Association President Ben Nussbaumer said he took a class in Dragun.

“My initial impression was for something as big as science, it was a bit smaller than I thought it would be,” Nussbaumer, a third-year undeclared student, said. “With STEM being a big field, I thought [Dragun] would have more stuff in it.”

Nussbaumer said would like to take a course in the Health and Life Sciences building and is “almost jealous” he doesn’t have any classes there this semester.

“When I heard that they built the new [Health and Life Sciences] building, I was really happy that they got a full, really nice and top-of-the-line space to do all those classes,” Nussbaumer said.

Nathaniel Cook, a fourth-year baking and pastry student, said no matter what students are learning, having the right space is important.

“If you’re cramped up in a little room without enough space to actually think, that can stifle productivity and motivation,” Cook said. “It’s just as important as keeping a room cool or a comfortable temperature for bakers to bake and cook.”