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LU to break ground on new welcome center

On Thurs. March 12 at 3:30 p.m. Lamar University will be hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Welcome Center. The community is invited.

The new center, to be constructed on the southeast corner of Rolfe Christopher Drive and Jim Gilligan Way, Welcome Centerwill be a one-story 6,300-square foot building featuring a spacious two-story lobby with comfortable seating areas for visitors, a refreshment counter and a self-service kiosk for prospective students. The lobby and a side gallery will include a variety of media to “tell the LU story.” A 40-seat theater for structured presentations will be located adjacent the lobby and designed to lead visitors to the gathering area for campus tours.

 “The Welcome Center will be the first stop on campus for prospective students, family members, alumni and other visitors,” said Tracie Craig, director of the Welcome Center. “It will be the first building people see as they approach campus on Cardinal Drive.  We will provide information about the campus, LU’s history, academic programs, athletics and student activities. It will also be the starting point for campus tours and housing tours.” 

 To ensure a holistic design for the south campus, LU developed conceptual designs of the new south campus entrance and will implement site features as funding becomes available. 

The building materials will be primarily brick, with cast stone elements, metal wall panels and a storefront glazing system. The storefront system will provide transparency for a visual connection between the main entrance on the east, the interior lobby and the back side on the west of the building, which will contain an outdoor event space. 

The interior finishes will comprise of porcelain floor tiles at the lobby, theater, gallery spaces and restrooms.  All light fixtures will be economical energy efficient LEDs, and all toilet accessories and plumbing fixtures have been selected based on the University’s design standards. This building is planned to achieve LEED Silver accreditation.

The landscape design includes improvements to the surrounding site and landscape elements for visual connection between the building and the site. Plant materials are consistent with the surrounding campus palette and are regionally appropriate. 

“We placed an emphasis on plants that have low-water requirements, quick establishment periods and manageable growth and that require minimal long-term maintenance,” said Katherine Miller, assistant vice president, planning & construction.

An evapotranspiration-based, automated irrigation system that can be programmed to minimize water waste will be installed. The system will be capable of efficiently delivering the required water needed for plant establishment and development as well as making seasonal adjustments.  

The site will house office space for admissions counselors and the center director, a workroom for student ambassadors and miscellaneous support spaces and will include visitor parking, bus drop-off, outdoor gathering areas, a public art sculpture by Paul Kittelson and Carter Ernst and an iconic “photo op” monument sign.

The former Human Resources Building at the corner of Rolfe Christopher Drive and Jim Gilligan Way will be demolished to make way for LU’s new Welcome Center. The projected time of completion is 12 months.