Long-anticipated renovations nearly underway to OSU’s Pride Center

Ginnie Sandoval, News Contributor

Since 2001, the Pride Center, once known as the Queer Resource Center, has been a safe place for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. Since then, it has grown significantly and has added many resources over the years as well as broadened the ones always offered. 

The Pride Center has always welcomed students of all kinds and made sure they feel included in every way. When first considering the renovations, the center wanted to make sure student’s voices would be heard, and had a say in what took place with the renovations.

Renovation Decisions

When deciding on the design, as the center was working with architects, it was also working with students. Focus groups and needs assessments were held with students and staff where they were asked questions like surrounding what they wanted out of the space and what was important to them. 

From this, what students decided was most important was that they had a space that was physically accessible, that was flexible enough to use each space for different purposes, and that had a warm and inviting atmosphere. 

Another way students were included in the renovation decisions was by connecting an Interior Design class in the College of Business with the architects working on the project. These students were asked to form groups and come up with their own designs for the Pride Center. 

The designs were then presented to the project committee and architects. In the end, many of the aspects from each design went into the final decisions. From this, students were not only included in the renovation decisions but they were also able to gain some professional experience they could take with them after they graduated. 

Funding and Construction

Although some of the renovations to the Pride Center are being covered by student-fee dollars, there wasn’t any new money asked from students. Most of the funding was divided among the offices of Student Affairs, Inclusion & Engagement, Student Experiences & Engagement and Diversity & Cultural Engagement. 

Amy Keene, who deals with the design and construction aspect of the renovations, said the OSU contracting guideline for design and construction projects will be followed. When it came to choosing an architect, the Director of Capital Project Delivery and the Campus Architect decided to partner with DECA Architecture for their design and engineering services.

DECA Architecture was originally considered back in 2006 when preliminary planning for the Pride Center but ultimately didn’t go through. Keene said with DECA on the project, she was “glad they were able to come back and see it through to full fruition.”

Renovations to the Building

With these new renovations, the Pride Center will be adding some much-needed flexibility to both the building itself and the spaces within. To achieve this, according to Cindy Konrad, center director for the Pride Center and SOL: Multicultural Support Network, the building is adding 1000 square feet. 

With this additional space, students will see significant and positive accommodations inside and outside of the building.

One of the most notable changes to the center will be easier accessibility for students with disabilities. They are taking away stairs and adding new ramps leading up to the front of the entrance. These ramps will have less of an incline and will welcome all students to access the building in the same way. 

Another notable change will be the porch and the covered patio. Konrad spoke about how these new additions will allow students to enjoy being outside, even in Oregon weather, and will be large enough to host gatherings and events. The entrances will also be wide enough to allow smooth access between the inside and outside of the center, including the community garden which will be expanded with some raised garden beds and more space for variety.

Inside Renovations

Coming in, students will notice how spacious each of the individual areas are. The space in the building will have more of an open concept to account for wheelchair accessibility as well as an added bathroom that will be ADA-compliant. They will notice areas such as the kitchen, living room, library and hangout areas have also expanded.

Konrad said the kitchen will be going from a space just big enough to fit one or two people at the same time, to a layout that flows easier and will allow students to cook together without feeling crowded. The kitchen will also open up to the covered patio and dining hall for added flexibility between one area and another. 

Another added room will be known as the Quiet Room. This room can be used as a space to meditate, decompress, and hold one on one meetings between students and the representatives from any of the resources offered.

One of the biggest changes is that, in addition to a living room, there will be an added family room. The family room will be a large space for students to gather together in a very comfortable and cozy atmosphere but will also be flexible enough to be converted into a large space for meetings and gatherings.

Renovation Timeline

As of right now, renovations should be starting anytime. All the permits are in place and the last piece is just getting the contractor under contract. Konrad hopes and estimates that the renovations will be finished by the fall of 2023 and until then, the Pride Center will continue to be hosted within the Student Experience Center. 

A Safe Space for the LGBTQ+ Community

Even with so much change happening, students will still find familiarity among all aspects of the Pride Center. It will still connect and partner with all the other Cultural Resource Centers and continue to complement each other.