The New and Improved Hub Will Serve Up More than Food: Flexibility, Social Space, and Comfy New Furniture Were Among the Priorities for Winning Back the Campus Eatery Popularity

It's been a long time since The Hub has lived up to its name. Once the social center on campus where CMC's first male students ate, played pinball, and hosted women from Scripps College to bridge games, its popularity over the years had waned to disappointing proportions
"The campus consensus was that the Hub wasn't living up to its potential to be a hub on campus," says ASCMC President Aditya Pai '13. "The furniture, the floor, and walls were dreary and deteriorating." Its hours of operation were limited, especially on the weekends, he said. The food itself also left something to be desired.

That's all about to change, however. As an extension of the North Mall makeover that's been underway this summer, The Hub will be poised to once again meet its true potential. Dan Gallagher, who was the project architect with Rafael Vinoly on the Kravis Center and the glass Living Room, walked us through the changes that will make The Hub an inviting, comfortable space that students will be proud of this fall.

"Definitely the Hub will feel a lot different than it did," Gallagher says. "The intent was to make it feel warm, inviting, and all-inclusive. I think before it felt a little like a lair. What I envision for the Hub now is that students will be eating here, hanging out, studying, even napping."

For that purpose, "extremely comfortable" furniture was ordered, in colors that will be more consistent with the earthy but vibrant palettes chosen for the Kravis Center and the Living Room: greens, oranges and neutrals. That will be a dramatic contrast from the dark, sports-bar colors that pre-existed in the Hub, and cast a dreary spell on its social potential. Bar stools, dark painting accents, and pool tables, for instance, got in the way of creating bright, happy conversation areas where students could eat and talk quietly, and study.

"One of the great things about CMC is that our administrators, officials, and trustees truly value student opinion and respond to student concerns," says Pai, who was part of a Student Spaces Task Force formed by ASCMC in 2011 to highlight space issues on campus. "Our discussions produced a series of recommendations we submitted to Senior Staff, many of which have already been implemented."

The resulting report, of course, called for renovation of the Hub, in the form of expanded hours, better furniture, enhanced carpeting and painting, and a modern, comfortable design. As the project was implemented this summer, Pai says Spellman was happy to share floor plans, and flooring and d?cor options, for feedback.

"I think students are going to be amazed by what's been done," says Dean of Students Mary Spellman. "This has really been a top to bottom renovation of the dining and lounge area. We have focused on creating a space that is pleasant to be in, comfortable, and that meets the needs that students have expressed. I think we've done that, and I can't wait to see it all come together."

The furniture will be better, but so will the walls. Gone are the multi-colored, dated accents in teal, purple, and dreary gray that worked against the room's naturally lit interior, thanks to skylights that were installed a couple of decades ago. "We've re-painted, using a pale, off-white color that reflects light and makes the space even brighter and the new interior colors even more vibrant. The Hub is a light-filled space and we wanted to maintain that feeling," Gallagher says.

The floor plan has also been reconfigured to focus on flexibility and sociability, he says. In addition to arranging the furniture into conversation areas, the new oversized chairs and couches will be on sled bases, meaning students can easily push them around, or even out of the way, and roll up the new area rugs, if they wanted to host a dance or event in the Hub.

One of the other challenges the pre-existing Hub encountered was lack of privacy. With its floor to ceiling windows and no dividing walls in the interior, it was a giant fishbowl inside. Students could see everyone who was coming and going, which could be a little distracting. Therefore, Gallagher says a perforated gypsum wall for screening, "to give students studying and lounging a little more privacy" is being added. The Hub will continue to have great views and an open floor plan but the new layout and screen wall will create a sense of intimate lounge areas.

The new and improved Hub will not only have a color palette reflective of the Kravis Center and Living Room, but also a connectedness to the North Mall's vast new social space. On a smaller scale, the bathrooms in the breezeway of Emett Center are being remodeled and freshened. And on a much grander, visually stunning scale, the patio outside The Hub has been greatly widened and expanded, says Director of Facilities and Campus Services Brian Worley, and will be outfitted with a significant number of new tables and chairs and umbrellas, giving students a front row seat to the social activity in Flamson Plazaincluding the new fountain.

"It will have a much more open sense," Worley says, "so that the whole notion of connectedness to the plaza will be very different. It will be more synergistic and interrelated."

"The administration at CMC deserves a lot of credit for listening and responding to our concerns," Pai says. "The renovation, along with improved hours for access, will help make the Hub the vibrant social center of campus it was intended to be. Hopefully that will lead students to spend time at the Hub and the resulting interactions will make CMC an even more tight-knit community than it already is."