Semistar Hall

Project Overview
With the fall semester quickly approaching, the students of Eastern University are in for a pleasant surprise.

Writing Center before

Larisa McShane & Associates has completed design and renovation work on Eastern University’s Walton Hall Writing Center with a $100,000 donation from a former student.

St. Davids, PA (August 6, 2008) -The Cushing Center for Counseling and Academic Support has just undergone a major renovation. Located in Walton Hall, a historic landmark built in 1914, the Cushing Center was certainly missing the modern touch. There had been previous renovations, but the gray paint, distressed furniture and minimal lighting created a gloomy atmosphere, which was hardly ideal for students working in the space.

Eastern alumna (’02) Kelly Wilbraham remembers time spent in the Writing Center while a student at Eastern, “When I took my tests, I always thought to myself that the room was so dark and drab”. This was the motivation that spurred Kelly to donate $100,000 to Eastern, dedicated solely to renovating the Cushing Center.

The University’s Vice President of Student Development, Bettie Ann Brigham, was well aware of the fact that this undertaking would take expert skill in planning and organization, which is why she hired the award winning interior design firm Larisa McShane and Associates for the job. “The major concerns during the planning process were proper lighting, space organization, functional furnishings, adequate storage, noise reduction…and how to get it all done with a limited budget,” said the designer, Larisa McShane.

Under superb direction from Larisa McShane and Associates and a team of skilled craftsmen, the project was not only completed within the indicated budget and on time, but was able to fit in some extras such as new electrical wiring and computer networking.

Creative space planning allowed the Center to add an additional testing room, a larger reception area with desk areas as well as spacious filing storage. The Writing Center’s original millwork and moldings were repaired and restored. The outdated acoustical ceiling was replaced by stylish, modern acoustic ceiling panels arranged as flower petals to emphasize the beautiful octagonal shape of the room. Cluttered, unorganized tables were replaced by a flowing design of tables around the perimeter, each lit by a pendant and energy saving florescent luminaries.

Writing center after renovation

Larisa McShane and Associates’ team included August Construction, responsible for the flawless construction, paint, carpentry and millwork repair, Independent Contract Flooring, who installed the low emission recycled content carpeting supplied by Lees Carpets. Gulliford Electric carefully wired and mounted the impressive low energy consumption lighting, supplied by Rittenhouse Electric. Workspace provided the stylish reception suite furnishings, comfortable caster chairs and tables.

Lisa Hemlick, Director of the Cushing Center, spoke of Larisa McShane’s involvement in the project, “We initially thought we would only be able to make some cosmetic improvements, but with Larisa McShane’s help we accomplished much more. She really sought our input about how we use our space and what we wished we could have… We believe that our fresh and updated look is going to be welcoming and inviting to students.”

With the Center completely transformed, not only the students, but also the administrative staff working in the center will benefit from the new design. Katie Brenneman, the Office Manager for Student Development said, “We are very pleased with the final look, and have gotten very positive feedback so far from students, and are excited for the way the redesign will enhance our services in this area.”

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