For generations, De La Salle Hall’s first floor was the College’s unofficial living room. Students dropped in for organized lectures or disorganized debating sessions, feasted on fare from Louis Guisto’s store and cajoled fellow insomniacs into 3 a.m. games of billiards.

In the 1970s, an expanding College short on office space began foreclosing on this de facto living room. Desks and cubicles gradually replaced couches and pool tables, and students lost a crucial haven away from the classroom.
That trend is over. As part of a $27.3 million renovation campaign through next summer, Saint Mary’s is restoring De La Salle’s first floor to its original configuration as a student gathering space. Pool tables and couches are returning, augmented by a coffee bar, wireless Internet access, a Seminar-style meeting room and an event hall.

“This is truly student space, providing an area where students can play games, watch TV, have a snack or just relax,” says Scott Kier, dean of student life. “The hope is to enhance the residence life experience by having the recreation space located in a residence hall as well as in an area where commuters can hang out.”

The project will also bring students closer to services, as Residence Life and Student Involvement and Leadership will have offices in the new space.

“Residence Life and Student Involvement and Leadership can move forward in their work by being at the center of a student residence and in close proximity to one another,” says Jane Camarillo, vice provost for student life.

The lectures and debating sessions from De La Salle’s past will also have a home. Hagerty Lounge, named for distinguished Seminar professor James Hagerty, will return to the remodeled floor in 2009.

Other projects in the 2008–09 multimillion-dollar renovation campaign include a new kitchen and more dining options in Oliver Hall, fresh paint in residence halls and a new Welcome Center in Brother Jerome West Hall for prospective students.

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