Since the ACE Building debuted in August of last year, one area of the building has remained vastly unoccupied. The original plan was to make what has now come to be known as the ACE Lounge into a student café, complete with “cooking equipment, ovens, stoves, refrigerated cases [and] sandwich tables”, but for the past several months it has remained just another empty room which students occasionally peer into in between classes.
However, that has all changed. Under the leadership of New College Student Alliance (NCSA) president Michael “Mike” Long, students have come together to create a usable space that can be utilized by both faculty and students alike.
“We were in a situation where we said, ‘Okay, do we just leave this room and then wait a couple years until funding pops up or do we do something about it now?’” Long said. “So the solution we came to was, ‘Let’s make a lounge for faculty and students to share.’”
The ACE Lounge will be the only place on campus, with the exception of Hamilton “Ham” Center, that will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students will be able to gain access by simply swiping their encoded card. There will also be a “TV room” where students will have the opportunity to hook their laptop up to the TV if they want to catch up on the news or watch movies. Long also hopes that there will be an Xbox available if students wish to play video games during their time in the lounge.
In addition to serving as a sort “hang out space” for students and faculty, the Four Winds Café has agreed to do catering for the lounge, doing a “lunch hour type deal” where baked goods and refreshments will be sold to students. Students will not be able to use their Ham points for this, however; these goodies will be cash only. There will also be an option for coffee pickup before classes begin, which was long coveted by the members of the faculty.
Decorating the space was pivotal to the lounge’s opening. The space, previously described as being “blank”, will now display student artwork solicited by third-year Erin Kent. In order to acquire such pieces, Kent utilized the student Forum and sought out art at the Student Juried Art Exhibition. She and a team of students also worked with an interior designer to decide how they could make the lounge as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
“[The decoration has] mostly been done but … we’re trying to make it more homey,” Kent said. “We’re also developing projects such as a book sharing program and figuring out the first events for the semester. We’re really trying to utilize the student space because the first opening of the space really defines how it will be used. I’ve got a bunch of random people who do sketches and do artwork and give me some of their art, which is really great because there are a lot of untapped reservoirs of activity at this school that don’t really get shown.”
Long emphasized that this was a student-driven project where everything from layout to the type of furniture was taken into careful consideration. Many ideas were considered when the decoration of the ACE Lounge was being planned, such as a hunting lodge motif and a “medieval sort of idea,” but in the end, it was decided that taking a simple route was the best.
“We just took a basic approach and have energetic colors, comfortable furniture … most of the chairs have wheels on the bottom, which is very cool,” Long said. “[The lounge has] a very bright — very, very bright — green wall that kind of throws you off when you first walk in, but you get used to it. Once you’re in there, it really creates a kind of energy for the room.”
The NCSA has been working with faculty liaison Aron Edidin on a final date for the lounge’s grand opening. Long stressed that he would like to see it open Friday and that students could enjoy a “breakfast/lunch type thing” while they scope out the new space. However, nothing has been finalized.
“I think it’s going to be really great,” Kent said. “In my time period — in fact in anybody’s time here — there has never been a space like this at all, and I’m really excited and I hope students treat it well. I hope it becomes a space we want it to be.”