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CAC To Announce Plans For Lounge

By Maral Shamloo


The Campus Activities Complex, its student advisory board, and the MIT Real Estate Office will issue a plan next week for the Transitions space on the first floor of the Stratton Student Center. The plan comes after a year of attempts to find a permanent use for the space.

CAC Director Phillip J. Walsh said that the main objective of the new plan will be to formalize the temporary, ad-hoc style of the lounge to create a space for the benefit of students, probably trying to earn some financial returns by incorporating retail kiosks.

Walsh said that no actions have been taken in the past year to beautify the space because serious investment can come only with a permanent plan. “I do not consider spending money on a temporary plan a good stewardship of the Institute’s budget -- to which students are major contributors -- considering that furnishing a room that large is not inexpensive at all,” he said.

“I like the lounge as it is. It is a very convenient place to come to eat or to have meetings,” said Vimal M. Bhalodia ’04. “I don’t think different furniture would make that much of a difference.”

Some students believe, however, that the plain appearance of the room does not encourage use.

“I have used the lounge once. It looks very dull and plain to me. I like the idea of having a lounge on the first floor but I also think better furniture might encourage me to use it more,” said Nigel A. Drego G.

One option that may appear in the plan is to set up kiosks that house sustainable and self contained businesses that would generate revenue.

Toscanini’s may become a kiosk

In particular, negotiations are in to move Toscanini’s to a kiosk.

Although Walsh declined to give details on these negotiations until they are finalized, he noted that tenants’ needs and objectives are being considered, and MIT has a very positive opinion towards Toscanini’s presence, as they are one of the most successful retailers on campus.

Gus Rancatore, Toscanini’s manager, was not available for comment.

Walsh said that prospective uses for these kiosks might include retail of women’s health and beauty products, international press and magazines, or food.

Changes part of larger plan

These changes all fall under a more general plan to convert the first floor of Student Center into a more inviting and pleasant environment for students.

“There has been an increased attention to the fact that there is a need for a lounge space on the first floor,” Walsh said. “Therefore the notion of a lounge is not going away in our plans for the Transitions space.”

Walsh expects the proposed changes to take place by spring semester if everything goes according to plan.

Space empty since 1998

Some negotiations were carried out with different retailers as prospective occupants of the Transitions space after Newbury Comics left about four years ago.

MIT’s Real Estate Office and the CAC were close to reaching an agreement with that would put a music-testing kiosk in the Transitions space last year, but the deal fell through when SwapIt went out of business.