Wichita State News
Photo: Gordon Murray
The Rhatigan Student Center may look messy, but business is still up and running.

Rhatigan Renewal messy, but building, services still open

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Rhatigan Renewal project has drawn spectators and raised questions this summer as renovation work has continued.

Shelly Coleman-Martins, marketing director for the RSC, knows how intimidating that long fence wrapped around the RSC looks.

She wants the WSU community to know that almost anything that was at the RSC before the renewal project can still be found there now, although it it might be a bit scaled down, she said.

Going vertical

On the third floor, Student Activities Council and the Center for Student Leadership have now become a single group called Student Involvement. Nearly all student groups now have space set aside in one centralized location.

The Smith Bowling & Recreation Center, now known as the wRECk Center, is open on the second floor.

Students still have a place to hang out, study, eat, drink and play, Coleman-Martins said.

The bowling alley is a temporary casualty of the construction project, but just about everything else patrons remember from the basement is there, including video games, pool tables, dart boards and a lounge area with televisions and food.

Meanwhile, WSU’s bowling team is still up and running. Bowling centers in Wichita will host practices and events for the team.

Other familiar services — Lords and Ladys Salon, the Commerce Bank and Shocker Card Center — are operating on the second floor of the RSC.

One challenge that RSC Reservations is addressing is the reduced number of meeting rooms and space for functions. But staff members are working with clients who need space.

“Other buildings have been graciously volunteering rooms to help with the shortages in RSC meeting spaces,” said Coleman-Martins.

The emphasis has been to keep the RSC as usable for the Wichita State community as possible.

“We definitely did not take the easy path here, which would have been for us to move out of the building and have the contractor take over the site,” Coleman-Martins said. “We moved into half of it just so we could continue services.”

Bookstore untouched

Having already been recently remodeled, the bookstore is not being renovated as part of the Rhatigan Renewal, although next year it will get some sprinkler system and heating and air conditioning upgrades.

Like the rest of the RSC, the bookstore has used outdoor signage to try and get the message out that it is still open.

One of WSU Bookstore assistant manager Andi Stipp’s concerns is volume of student traffic.

Bookstore staff won’t really know how the renewal project will affect customer traffic until students come back for fall classes.

Stipp is planning for large numbers of advance Web orders and thinks many students will want to pick up fall books early.

Mail orders have also increased during the past year, and Stipp anticipates that will continue.

Stipp said that bookstore staff are thinking outside the box for ways to continue serving students better during the renewal project, despite the limited space inside and outside the RSC.

For example, she said that patio sales will likely continue, but exactly how has not yet been decided.

Food court reopening soon

While the food court hasn’t been open this summer, that will change soon.

“We are planning on opening Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A, Fast Break and, with a limited menu, Masala Asian Grill the week of September 10th,” said David Casida, general manager of dining services.

Customers can expect to see some changes in the layout of the food court.

The old doors exiting the dining room to the northwest corner patio have become the new food court entry doors. The old entry and exit doors are blocked by construction.

Customers will continue to see improvements throughout the fall semester.

Although there is no exact date set, Sodexho hopes to have the new Pizza Hut open by the middle of October in its new location next to the Masala Asian Grill.

“Pizza Hut Express will be a dual register concept so you’ll be able to approach them from two directions,” Casida said. “One of the ideas for the construction was to open up the whole area and avoid the traffic problems we’ve had.”

“Masala will initially have very limited menu because the kitchen facility in the building will be closed through the end of December,” Casida said.

After the kitchen opens, however, customers can expect the menu to expand dramatically, including Halal entrees, Asian soups, rice and noodle bowls as well as a Chef’s special each day.

Casida said that once the food court and the kitchen reopen, he doesn’t anticipate any other shutdown due to construction in the RSC.

Ongoing process

Back in the RSC marketing office, Coleman-Martins has plans for more media coverage as the work on the Rhatigan Renewal project continues.

She wants to keep the WSU community up-to-date as the work progresses.

Now, the most immediate updates and milestone announcements can be found online at www.wichita.edu/RhatiganRenewal, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheRhatiganRenewal or through Twitter at the @RhatiganRenewal account, which will also link to additional content.

This year, Welcomefest will feature the RSC-U-Now campaign, which follows RSC-U-Later from last year.

Other ideas include building tours, a live webcam from the top of Jabara Hall, and even a time-lapse video showing the exterior of the building.

She has other plans that she wants to keep as surprises.

“We didn’t forget about the campus, and we don’t want the campus to forget about us,” Coleman-Martins said.

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Created on Monday, August 06, 2012; Last modified on Monday, August 06, 2012