Renovation under way on student center

Northwestern College is renovating its Rowenhorst Student Center (RSC) in a yearlong project that will cost nearly $5 million. Crews began gutting the front portion of the building July 17. It and the parking lot north of the RSC will be closed until construction is completed in August of 2007.

Northwestern’s Imagine Campaign will provide $3 million for the renovation, while another $1.9 will come from the college’s capital improvements budget. The general contractor is Hoogendoorn Construction of Canton, S.D., a firm that also built Northwestern’s Stegenga Hall, DeWitt Theatre Arts Center and Korver Visual Arts Center.

Originally a factory, the RSC was converted into the college’s student center more than 25 years ago. At the time a campus showcase, the building most recently was a recruiting liability due to its dated appearance and dark, mazelike feel. The changing needs of students and the addition of other buildings on campus made the RSC’s game room, Bogaard Theatre, theatre workshop and former Te Paske Gallery underutilized space.

By gutting the facility and starting over rather than simply remodeling, Northwestern will again have a student center that encourages community among its students, faculty and staff. It will also have a building that is well-lit, easy to navigate, and that gives greater visibility to the activity occurring inside.

From the RSC’s main entrance to the doors leading into the mini-gymnasium, a 30-foot-wide section of the roof will be raised six feet and rimmed with windows, adding height and light to the interior of the building. The raised roof will also create a tall, prominent entrance for the student center, making it easier to see from Highway 10.

Inside, a student services mall extending from the main entrance to the mini-gym will be lined with windows into the offices, work areas and classrooms bordering a wide central corridor. To the right, or west, side of the corridor will be a café with extended hours, a coffee shop atmosphere, Internet access and outdoor seating, as well as an expanded post office, larger bookstore, classroom, campus security office and small meeting room.

A new wellness center, consolidating Northwestern’s health and counseling services, will be just left of the RSC’s main entrance, followed by offices for student development, international and multicultural affairs, student government and student activities. Two more classrooms will fill an urgent need for more academic space.

During construction, the RSC control desk and exercise bikes will be relocated to the mini-gym. The public can access the mini-gym, Korver Weight Room, racquetball courts, four-court gymnasium and track through the doors just to the east of the weight room, between the Bultman Center and the RSC.

For the next year while construction takes place, Northwestern’s bookstore is temporarily located in the lounge of Hospers Hall, on Albany Ave. Other offices and services—such as the mailroom and student development—have been moved to locations throughout campus.

Renovation photo gallery