A glimpse of the Zoldan Center

By Sydney Fairbanks

Youngstown State University is in the program verification phase for the Zoldan Family Student Center that will replace Kilcawley Center. 

A forum for community feedback took place Nov. 2 in the Jones Room of Kilcawley to discuss what YSU students and staff want to see.

The program verification phase refers to designing what will be in the building. Designers will evaluate the building’s features, such as how many rooms there will be, room size and what attributes they will have. The feedback received at the forum will help the design team create the final program for the building.

Joy Polkabla Byers, the associate vice president of Student Experience, started working with WTW Architects, an architecture firm, two years ago to conduct a feasibility study to figure out what would be needed in the new student center.

“We’re at the stage that the architects [have] been hired and we’re developing the plans for the building. When they talk about the programmatic, now we’re really narrowing it down,” Byers said. “It’s not just having X number of space for the Chestnut Room, it is what the Chestnut Room is going to be used for [and] how it’s going to be designed.”

In her presentation at the forum, Amy Maceyko, principal at WTW Architects Inc., said one change that students can look forward to is the consolidation of food services. The goal is to have most food venues in one area to accommodate students and food service staff.

“One person wants Chick-fil-A, one person wants Wendy’s, one person wants Dunkin’. Instead of having to go to three separate parts of the building and try to meet up later, all of the venues, or most of the venues, will be in one place,” Maceyko said.

Another concern during the meeting was creating a large event space. One idea included expanding and upscaling the Chestnut Room, as well as adding a secondary, student-focused area.

The ideas discussed for the new area include late-night programming, a pub or evening food venue and the feel of a black-box theater.

Other changes discussed included creating more meeting rooms — whether that means adding smaller meeting rooms or making the larger ones divisible. 

The forum also considered implementing retail stores, which could sell basic needs for travel, personal care items, over-the-counter medications and food.

Byers said the main goal of the new student center is to turn the space into what most benefits students.

“I want a building that meets the current needs. This building is outdated and it has a lot of opportunities for students, but maybe because the building has some issues with temperature or accessibility. I want to make sure we’re really meeting what students and campus needs,” Byers said.

The next step will be to design development and construction documents throughout 2024 to bring the discussed ideas to fruition. The team plans on holding various forums, focus groups and surveys to get feedback throughout the process.

The next Open Campus Forum will be 12 to1:30 p.m., Nov. 30, in the Jones Room of Kilcawley.

The projected date to shut down Kilcawley Center and begin construction is May 2025. The process is expected to take up to two and a half years to build and all activities taking place in the center will be relocated during that time. 

To learn more about the construction of the new building or to share input, contact Byers at jlbyers@ysu.edu