North Central College’s WAC “living room” is transformed, opened for all

Feb 05, 2013

A transformation has expanded student gathering space in the main level of the Harold and Eva White Activities Center (WAC). The once closed-in and separated areas are now open, furnished and accessible to everyone to use.

Exploring ways to create more usable space in WAC has been a goal of the College and student involvement staff, says Amy Clarke ’03 Sievers, director of student involvement and associate director of the First-Year Experience.

“We first looked at what we wanted to happen on campus and invited input from students,” she says. “We wanted students to use the space as a campus living room with more options for connecting, living, hosting events, hanging out. With the main floor opened up, it’s conducive for so many uses, from serving as a small performance or film viewing space to recharging your tablet or connecting with friends over a meal.”

Reconstruction started during D-Term 2012 and continued into winter term. Walls between Cardinal Lounge, the WAC front desk and center hallway were torn down and the space completely opened. Additions to the space include wood flooring throughout, painted walls, multiple electric outlets for media use, three large-screen TVs and dropdown screen and projector for a variety of viewing options. Coffee tables and comfy armchairs, tables and 36 additional seats for more dining options, and new lighting, sound and speaker systems create an inviting space.

The WAC front desk was moved to an open counter in the center of the main floor. Brittini Avery ’14 works at the WAC front desk where students sign up for trips and activities. “I’m able to see and communicate with more people. And we can help more people because they see us and know we’re here,” she says.

North Central’s maintenance staff and student workers completed most of the work, says Mike Hudson, who oversees campus construction projects as assistant vice president for business operations. Two new waste stations with distinct bins for recycling, composting and the landfill are also being installed.

When WAC was built in 1960, it was called the Alumni Student Union and described by then President Arlo Schilling as “the ‘living room’ of the college … and center of activity.” Others said, “The Union reflects the visible symbol of what we may call the personality of NCC” and “it’s a community center for the college and all who come here.” This history and more will become part of the wall design throughout the new space in WAC.  

Earlier this year, the Boilerhouse lower level was also redesigned and repurposed. All students—residential, commuter, graduate and undergraduate—are welcome in both WAC and the quieter lower level of the Boilerhouse, where a ping pong table, board games, TV and lounge areas create a livelier environment. The upper level of the Boilerhouse houses new office space for commuter assistants and computer stations.