Place-making efforts add sights, spirit, sound across WSU's campus

  • Wichita State's place-making efforts continue with projects featuring music, the Ablah Library sunken patio, Clinton Hall and more.
  • The five projects, directed by Wichita State alum Ty Tabing, use faculty and students to create a campus that welcomes exploration.
  • Adjunct professor Hallie Linnebur will paint electrical boxes near the Food Truck Plaza to celebrate Wichita State's diversity.

Hallie Linnebur sees green electrical boxes as an opportunity to paint the people and spirit of Wichita State University.

Bright, bold colors. Pop art. Her goal is to turn the unattractive electrical boxes around the Food Truck Plaza and its lake into something worth noticing. Her work with high-quality exterior paint and imagination is part of a continuing place-making effort on campus.

“There’s all kinds of people here, so I want to do something that’s going to appeal to the largest number of people,” said Linnebur, an adjunct professor in the School of Art, Design and Creative Industries. “I started sketching and was drawing a lot of faces, different kinds of faces, human faces, human hands. I realized this about diversity for me and celebrating cultural diversity and togetherness on campus.”

Ty Tabing is leading the place-making work for a second year with plans for five projects around campus. He hopes to have them done by the end of the year, with most coming on line while the weather allows for outdoor enjoyment.

  • Painting electrical boxes near the Food Truck Plaza.
  • Adding speakers for music at the Food Truck Plaza.
  • Painting the steps at the south entrance to Clinton Hall.
  • Improving the sunken patio at Ablah Library.
  • Placing hammocks throughout campus.

Tabing, a native Wichitan and a 1989 Wichita State graduate, started adding to the campus’ look and feel last fall. The projects included 500 “Wulips” - yellow and black blooms made from chicken wire and bamboo – planted around campus – and two Shocker Pods (with a third coming before school starts).Adding hammocks to tree-lined spaces and decorating electrical boxes also helped start the place-making progress.

The projects are designed to give students, faculty and staff reasons to stay on campus and serve as invitation for others to explore and enjoy. The addition of music at the Food Truck Plaza and the electrical boxes will become part of the draw to that area of campus.

“As these buildings come on line, the importance and the centrality of this space will be even more important going forward, I think,” Tabing said. “We do want to have the song of the day, where people vote, or maybe the genre of the day. Maybe reggae music is what’s playing on a Friday.”

Brightening the Clinton Hall steps will activate a visible part of campus, near the Rhatigan Student Center. The sunken patio at Ablah Library is an under-utilized area, Tabing said. Students enrolled in ARTS 211: Intro to Community & Social Practice are working on the project.

You go hang out for a little bit. You talk. You have a good time with friends.
Austin Nordyke
Engineering senior

“Some of those ideas are painting the concrete, adding string lights, adding some outdoor furniture out there,” Tabing said. “We’re going to pluck the best ideas from these different concepts. This class . . . they’ll deal with the implementation of this plan.”

Austin Nordyke, a senior engineering technology management major from Hugoton, owns a navy-blue hammock, which he uses often around campus.

“I use it more as a community place to meet people,” he said. “You find two of them. You go hang out for a little bit. You talk.  You have a good time with friends.”

Nordyke and his friends set up hammocks at campus events at the Marcus Welcome Center and Braeburn Square. They rest them in shady spots around campus. Tabing’s plan for the coming school year will find more places for hammock areas.

“It’s kind of freeing,” Nordyke said. “You can put them up where ever you want to. Great for people-watching.”

The Knight Foundation Fund at the Wichita Community Foundation provided a grant of $61,950 to help with the university’s strategic goal of empowering students to create their own campus culture and experience. 

“We really want to reach a point where students feel empowered to do their own place-making projects,” Tabing said. “The administration really supports creating opportunities for students to create their own campus experience through place-making.”

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