Function or feel? Discussion progresses on design of Multicultural Student Center

Corey Williamson, director of the Union; Brandon Clark, student programs coordinator for diversity and multicultural student affairs; Mirta Chavez, director of Multicultural Programs and Services; and Monica Romero, president of HALO and sophomore in chemistry, examine building design examples for the Multicultural Student Center. (Rafael Garcia | Collegian Media Group)

Cozy and comfortable, or open and inviting? A wall of windows, or a private enclave?

These are the questions members of the Multicultural Student Center Project Action Team considered Tuesday afternoon when they met with architects to determine how to balance the feel and the function of a Multicultural Student Center as plans begin to solidify for the building.

Approximately half of the team, made up of representatives from several student groups and faculty organizations with investment into the project, evaluated several images of buildings presented by architects from Hollis + Miller Architects out of Kansas City, Missouri.

On large poster boards filled with dozens of images of public spaces and buildings, members of the team put green stickers next to architectural examples that they liked, and orange stickers next to images that they didn’t like.

One image — looking down a long, symmetrical hallway lined with several doors — had a note from a student, saying that it looked too much like a jail. On another image — of a cavernous, lowly lit area with tables scattered across the floor — someone wrote that it looked too much like Kramer Dining Center.

“This conversation will give us some descriptors and get our stakeholders more engaged in the process,” said Albert Ray, higher education market lead for Hollis + Miller. “So really, it’s these words that will inform what we draw — they inform how we’ll organize the space and how we’ll contextualize it.”

The company will carefully consider the feedback they receive from students, faculty and other stakeholders in the project to create a facility that the whole community can be proud of, Ray said.

“You really have to [design the building] in a way that is not a facility just for minority students groups,” Ray said. “It’s a facility for all groups.”

Plans for the center are steadily progressing after President Richard Myers announced a new $1.5 million gift for the center earlier this month, bringing the total raised to $4.2 million raised of the projected $5.5 million project cost.

Ray said the company will hold three more workshops this semester with K-State community members to get their input on a preliminary design for the building, and first visual renderings of the building will come in early December.

I'm Rafael Garcia, and I'm a 2019 K-State graduate in journalism and former editor-in-chief of the K-State Collegian. I believe that much of the world's problems come from a lack of understanding of other people, but by telling other people's stories and finding the good in the world, I think we can increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. Questions, comments, concerns, news tips? Email the Collegian team at