University Guide Service temporarily moves from Pavilion VIII to Newcomb Hall

U-Guides will remain in the Media Activities Center space for 24 to 36 months

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The University Guide Service is calling the Media Activities Center a home for 24-36 months, after which they will move back into Pavilion VIII

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

The day before classes of the spring semester, the University Guide Service moved from its historic office of many years, Pavilion VIII, to the Media Activities Center, located in the Lower Level of Newcomb Hall.

Pavilion VIII, located on the Lawn, will host incoming University President James E. Ryan while the University renovates the President’s house at Carr’s Hill. Afterwards, Pavilion VIII will receive renovations, necessitating the U-Guides’ move to the Media Activities Center.

“The reasoning behind our moving office space was the fact that Pavilion VIII is undergoing a major renovation,” Brendan Nigro, a third-year College student and U-Guides chair, said in an email to The Cavalier Daily.

Nigro went on to explain that these renovations for the Pavilions take place every 20 to 30 years. Some renovations to be done in Pavilion VIII include updating systems, fixing structural issues and providing general maintenance. 

“We were told we would need to move out this spring and find a temporary office space for 24 to 36 months, after which the renovation would be complete and we would return to Pavilion VIII,” Nigro said.

In an email to The Cavalier Daily, Brian Hogg, a senior historic preservation planner in the Office of the Architect for the University, explained the need for the renovations to Pavilion VIII.

“Pavilion VIII was last renovated [more than three decades ago], so the air conditioning, plumbing, power, and data were all out of date,” Hogg said. “The roof is in really bad shape, too.”

Hogg and his team are focused on renovating Carr’s Hill, after which he said he plans to refocus on Pavilion VIII.

“President Ryan will be [in Pavilion VIII] until Carr’s Hill renovation is finished — we expect that to be done in mid-2019 — then we’ll be able to turn our attention to Pavilion VIII,” Hogg said.

Hogg noted, however, that because the renovations were scheduled to begin this spring, the U-Guides would have moved out of Pavilion VIII regardless of Ryan’s move.

“Pavilion VIII was scheduled to be renovated this year, well before the decision was made to have Mr. Ryan live there temporarily,” Hogg said.

U-Guides provide daily admissions and historical tours for prospective students and anyone interested in learning more about the University.

With the U-Guides providing over 2,500 tours per year, the Media Activities Center will serve as an advantageous location to accommodate for the organization for several reasons, Nigro said.

Nigro said the proximity of the MAC-Lab to some tour starting locations — including the Rotunda, Peabody Hall and Newcomb Theater — allows for better communication among their group. 

“We have a system of office hours in place for tour coverage in which we need to respond quickly to a call for more guides for a given group,” Nigro said. “Therefore, the MAC space as a temporary office made a lot of sense.”

J. Marshall Pattie, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and associate dean of students, said that the MAC-Lab was one of the few options for the U-Guides’ temporary office.

“The only other option we really discussed was an office space on the fourth floor [of Newcomb Hall],” Pattie said. “It would have been really tight for them.”

The MAC-Lab also allows the U-Guides to be surrounded by a student space. Nigro said this reduces the concern of creating a noise disturbance.

“Another benefit of our interim office space would be that it is slightly larger, allowing us to host events such as continued training programs for our membership that may have previously required reserving a classroom,” Nigro added.

However, Nigro said Pavilion VIII was a better location for historical tours beginning on the Lawn.

Hannah Mezzacappa, a fourth-year College student and U-Guide, said she didn’t mind the change.

“I joined [U-Guides] the fall of my second year. So since then we’ve been in Pavilion VIII, so it’s strange moving into a new office,” Mezzacappa said. “But I don’t really mind.”

The Office of the Dean of Students is also preparing for renovations to the MAC-Lab itself.

Even prior to the U-Guides’ move, Nigro said staff from ODOS felt the space was not fulfilling its intended purpose — to provide students with innovative software — and planned to take the space offline.

“[ODOS is] firmly committed to retaining [the MAC-Lab] as a student space moving forward after our temporary stay in the space is up,” Nigro said. “After our temporary stay in the MAC is up, it is my understanding that ODOS hopes to have plans ready on how to make the space a unique and useful for students.”

In an email to The Cavalier Daily, Richard Reifenstein, ODOS director of technology and innovation, said the MAC-Lab space was originally intended to contain creative software and provide student collaboration. Although he said it is too early to talk about the MAC-Lab’s renovation, Reifenstein said his team is open to many possibilities.

“One might envision a media lab to have sound proof booths to create podcasts,” Reifenstein said. “Maybe a place to create and explore new media in the Virtual or Augmented Reality space. Perhaps professional video and audio editing suites.”

Reifenstein also said he wants to hear from students in determining the future of the Media Activities Center.

“I believe it’s important to have a space that the students want or need,” Reifenstein said. “If it’s a Media Activities Center then it should support the students in the exploration of new and current forms of media creation and consumption.”

While the U-Guides will use their new office space for future tours in the coming years, Nigro said his team enjoyed their former office in Pavilion VIII.

“We love our space in Pavilion VIII and are incredibly grateful that the Vice President of Student Affairs’ office has helped us maintain it over the years,” Nigro said. 

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