Spring 2003


 

Cornerstone to Be Laid at 31st Board of Governors Meeting

Students, Faculty Welcome the Planned ‘Student House’

 

 

The forthcoming Board of Governors Meeting will see the laying of the cornerstone for the Student House building, and it cannot come fast enough. 

        “Finally the University of Haifa will have a place for students, like all the other universities,” rejoices Shani Ochakovski, head of the Student Union and a second-year Political Science student. 

        Statements like that likely bring a twinkle to the eye of Sir Maurice Hatter, Deputy Chairman of the University’s Board of Governors and, in the words of University President Prof. Yehuda Hayuth, “perhaps the driving force for several years behind the student building.  Sir Maurice continues to be the great pusher behind this project.”

        UH President Hayuth also welcomed the support given to the planned student center by Lord Jacobs, past Chairman of the Board of Governors.

        Echoing Ochakovski, Prof. Ron Robin, Dean of Students, pointed out that the Mt. Carmel campus was the only university campus without a student building.  The University did have a student center, which had been appropriate for an earlier era but became inadequate when the student body doubled in the 1990s.  Large-scale folk dancing also caused the building, supported on columns, to vibrate and so presented a safety hazard.

        “The building will have symbolic, as well as practical value,” Robin continued, “since it will be placed in its proper location.  The center of gravity [for student activity] will be in the center of the campus instead of at the edge of the campus as it is now.”

        Robin sees the future building as another example of the increased services to students that the University has been providing.  “Both the Student Union and the University’s Students Authority will have a home there to run activities, to provide the vital services that can only be given through these bodies,” he notes.  “There will be no need to conduct activities in areas where they interfere with classes as is now the case.  What they all now do small, they will be able to do big.”

And, indeed, Ochakovski praises the building’s design “as answering all of the students needs.”  He himself was not among the judges of the architectural competition for the new building—his predecessor was—but he did request certain small changes in the interior design, which were made.  “I only hope,” the student leader sums up his feelings about the project, “that it [the construction] will be carried out quickly.”

Even with Sir Maurice’s and Lord Jacob’s help, the $8,000,000 student center is still in need of financing.  President Hayuth mentioned a unique approach that will be taken to this end.  The University is planning to involve the students in raising the necessary remaining funds.  “They will be helping themselves, as well as the University,” he commented.  

The winning project, designed by the prize-winning firm of Bracha and Michael Hiyutin, connects two wings into a “user-friendly” structure covering an area, including grounds, of some 5,000 sq. meters.  It will be constructed on the hill slope just off the Scenic Road in back of the Rabin Complex.  One wing, a two-story, rectangular prism perpendicular to the line of topography and jutting out toward the landscape, will house the Office of the Dean of Students.  The other wing is designed as a four-story structure in the shape of a graduated fan set into the slope and facing the landscape. 

The two upper floors of this latter wing are intended for the offices of the Student Union and the Perach student-assistance program.  The two lower floors will contain classrooms, club rooms, a hall, and a cafeteria.  The roofs of the graduated structure will be covered with grass and, therefore, integrate into the environmental development of the mountain slope.  Ochakovski may be a politician in the making, but this student’s esthetic sense led him to express an appreciation of this feature of the design.

A kind of wadi, as the University Engineer’s office describes it, will connect the two wings.  This “wadi” is actually a stepped street enabling access to the different floors of the buildings from the outside.

               

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