Loper renovation is a game changer

LOPER: Grand opening scheduled for October

Sharon Adasme

Dean Jeremy Pickard and designer Lauren Stottler wrap up the Calumet tour.

“Put that on our punch list.”
“Where are those tiles?”
“Move those boxes over there.”
“Daniel, can you grab that putty

Progress is evident as MCC’s Loper Hall renovation nears its finishing stages. MCC Dean of Instruction Jeremy Pickard gave the Calumet a personal tour of the progress in Loper Hall – aka, the library –   Sept. 6.

“It’s quite exciting,” Pickard said about the renovation. “It’s like a game changer for what we want to do for education.” With such a small campus of just five main buildings, a complete renovation of one of them will be huge difference.

Pickard said, “We haven’t touched this building since the ’80s, and now to touch every piece of it?”

The grand tour (keep present tense)

He starts with the outside additions and the changes in front of Loper Hall. Pickard said the front grounds were always wet from rain falling from the library overhang with nowhere for the water to go. The Quad couldn’t really drain all the collected water. Now the water has been diverted to existing drains so the grounds can dry. An added canopy with a new sign will provide shade for picnic tables. The front doors have been moved to fit the flow on the inside, so they are more central.

“The landscapers are here,” Pickard said as he made his way through a side door into Loper. Lemon Landscaping was contracted once again after being hired to demolish the pond last school year.

Right inside the side door is a set of four rooms, the collaboration/study rooms. Each is color coded, and students can plug in personal computers to a monitor so up to six students can work together or use a white board wall provided.

“Imagine an instructor could bring a class down, reserve the rooms, and separate the class into teams that can each have a room to work in,” Pickard said.

Another couple smaller study rooms wrap around the corner, for more of a personal space. The rooms are sound-proof, so as to “keep your head down” to study for “that final you have in 10 minutes,” he said with a laugh.

Next on the tour was the brand new Writing Lab. Pickard was very excited about this new addition to the library. “We haven’t had one of these before,” he said.

He entered into a big stretch of room with four long spaces for tables, six computers for each table, as well as two large monitor screens on opposite walls so that everyone can collaborate.

“Smell that glue,” Pickard said, stepping over construction plastic still covering parts of the floor. Whiffs of wet paint and carpet adhesive fill the back of the library where the Success Center is located.


Dean Jeremy Pickard and designer Lauren Stottler chat with a worker.


It had not moved locations, but because the mezzanines are gone, “it feels like it’s right out there,” he said. A more open feeling permeates the area, supported by all the glass. “That was done on purpose,” he said, “so everyone can see everything that goes on.”

Another brand new extension of thelibrary and student services in Loper is the Veteran’s Room. “Before, we just gave them a space,” he said. Now veterans and their families will have their own room, and EICC VA Certifying Official Rebecca Geiken’s office will be there to help answer any questions about the G.I. Bill or anything they need help with.

Pickard turned down a small hallway to reveal another new amenity for the library: Two bathrooms are located on the first floor, which never had restrooms.

Walking past Assistant Dean of Library Services Nancy Luikart’s new office and behind the elevator that will stay in Loper, Pickard reaches the blues, greens, yellows, and splash of orange that is the café mural. A wide counter space invites everyone to sit down and grab a coffee, tea, or maybe a pastry before class or after some grueling homework. Pickard said, “In all honesty I myself don’t actually drink coffee.” But he is still excited for the prospect for students. With the new conference room behind it, people can grab a coffee, head to a meeting, or read a book; there’s just a lot of possibilities for students, staff, faculty, and really anyone on campus.

The design colors play well, from rooms to carpet to the upper floor. Each room has an accent wall of green, blue, yellow, or orange, and the black and gray carpet is interspersed with those four accents.

The Archive Room includes an updated storage area that will come with a large table for spreading out research materials. The new circulation desk has been expanded and is now wider and more open to allow more student interaction.

Pickard walks around the construction, explaining each room, pointing out where things will be and filling in the blanks of the picture he can see. He asks the workers how they’re doing, how’s it coming along. One man answers, “Slowly but surely,” then pulls Pickard aside to ask whether the black and gray air conditioner would match the design. Pickard answers, as if it were his own living room, knowing the designs like it’s his own house.

He then turns toward the stairs and heads to the upper floor. “Not a lot was redone upstairs, it was really only cosmetics.” Mezzanine offices were removed, so the lounge area has been repurposed to make bigger office spaces.

“It is, it’s really beautiful,” said Pickard. There was that glue smell again, but Pickard said, “I don’t mind the smell of glue, honestly.”

The doors in the Loper 214 and 215 classrooms used to be solid metal, but now have glass, so they can act as another window to let in more natural light. The windows along the hallway wall are still original.

“There you go, that’s the grand tour,” said Pickard. He returned to the main floor.


The view from the upper level, where offices were removed


Loper Hall should begin receiving furniture this month, and Pickard says it will take a couple weeks to move it all in. The workers are trying to finish the carpet as soon as possible for that reason. After furniture, then the audio-visual installations will begin, taking another couple weeks. The grand opening of the new Loper Student Learning Center is scheduled for the beginning of October.

Lauren Stottler was the designer for the Loper project. “There’s so much progress,” she said excitedly as she walked around the main floor with Pickard. They conversed about whether or not they would be ready for furniture. Pickard was nervous that all floor tiles weren’t in. Stottler asked, “Are the colors starting to make sense now?”

Country music played in the background as the two walked back across the freshly laid carpet pieces and out a side door.


Dean Jeremy Pickard and designer Lauren Stottler pose in the stairwell.