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New TAC student center on drawing board
Posted: 11/12/2013

TransAlta Commons student centerA one-stop enrollment center on the Centralia College campus will make it much easier for students to sign up for classes and move through other steps to get into their class of choice. On the drawing board is the TransAlta Commons (TAC), the much anticipated student center.

The high-tech, high-touch center will combine the best of student-staff interaction coupled with access to online virtual services to greatly increase efficiency of services.

Construction of the building, which will match the 70,000-square-foot size of adjacent Washington Hall and the science center, could begin in summer 2015. Most of the projected near-$40 million price tag will come from the state, although $1 million was raised through a Centralia College Foundation capital campaign. The building could be opened in 2017.

Studies show that this type of facility, one that houses all enrollment services in one building, serves as a strong tool in recruiting and retention. It helps build a sense of belonging and students appreciate the efficiency.

The proposed center would be constructed on the southeast corner of the Walnut St. and Washington Ave. intersection. When finished, the TAC will be one of the three largest college buildings totaling nearly a quarter of a million square feet. The cost of construction of the three buildings, when the Commons is complete, will have come to nearly $90 million. It is expected that virtually every college student will pass through the new Commons.

The center will house enrollment functions, financial aid, counseling, the bookstore, and cashiering, among other departments. The facility will include an expansive, multi-function public use area connected to the cafeteria that could host community activities, ceremonies, and be converted to a reception area that could provide seating for up to 500 people.

The college will lose student parking slots with the construction but it is developing plans for replacement slots to meet code.

What could quickly prove to be a major public attraction is the planetarium, which will offer presentations using a state-of-the-art full dome projection system. The planetarium is primarily for presenting educational shows covering subjects related to astronomy and the college will be developing programs that could be ongoing public presentations.

The planetarium could double as a lecture hall or meeting room. A feature of the building will be the technology that will run through it. Each room and all common areas of the TAC will be wired to accommodate current and emerging technologies and learning styles.

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