VisTaTech 2.0

Campuss+VisTaTech+Centers+north+entry+will+be+closed+until+further+notice%2C+Schoolcraft+College%2C+Tuesday%2C+September+30th%2C+2022%2C+in+Livonia%2C+MI.

Izabella Allie

Campus’s VisTaTech Center’s north entry will be closed until further notice, Schoolcraft College, Tuesday, September 30th, 2022, in Livonia, MI.

Kat Wenske, Editor-in-Chief

If you’ve driven past the north side of campus, you may have noticed a lot of construction going on in front of the VisTaTech Center. Well, the building is getting a makeover. 

 The scope of the VisTaTech Center is set to expand even further with the front portion seeing expansive renovations that include new additions and an open floor plan that Schoolcraft College President, Dr. Glenn Cerny has called “state of the art.” This construction began on Aug. 1, 2022 and is planned to be completed in fall 2023. 

Funded by and speaking on behalf of the Schoolcraft Foundation, Executive Director of Development and The Schoolcraft Foundation Dawn Margretta fully supports and proclaims that these renovations will bring Schoolcraft “to the next level.”

“We actually provided a grant for several years. We were the first funder of this project. So we provided a million dollar  grant for that. Hopefully that allows the college leverage for some other types of funding too,” said Magretta. 

The main north entrance is closed and foot traffic has been rerouted to but the east entrance, which as well as the south entrance which is handicap accessible. 

The American Harvest restaurant and the Brewpub 

Regarding the renovations themselves, the American Harvest restaurant can be found on the left side of the front entrance, which will be expanded into the previously unused patio space and will boast new additions such as an authentic brewpub with taps, as well as a kitchen for traditional bar food accompanied by some adjustments to the open kitchen and an overall contemporary makeover. The expansion will not only service more people but also expand culinary programs which will provide more opportunities to students. 

Innovation Center with additional kitchens 

The shorter right side of the entrance will be infilled with a classroom, becoming an innovative “flexible spacing system” or lab with an expansive video wallboard to showcase the instructor or a selected video. This area seats 70 people angled towards the back of the room to enhance the visibility to all attendees. A smaller wine rack will also be built on the side of the room. The instructor’s teaching location is currently planned to be a demonstration kitchen that can host culinary classes, but also science classes like chemistry and biology as well as lectures. Corporate entities can rent the space out and Cerny has the intention of every student attending Schoolcraft to have one of their classes in that space. An additional prep kitchen will be in the back that will also allow students to eat in the innovation center.

“What we are calling the ‘innovation center’ sort of a working title, that will be a more technologically advanced demonstration type of room that can be used for cooking demonstrations with our culinary program but it also allows for science classes and things like that to be able to utilize that space,” said Magretta. “It is a good classroom space for your traditional classes, as well as culinary and it also allows outside groups to come in and use that space.” 

Henry’s Food Court will still be up and running during this process, and the rest of VisTaTech will also see some eventual renovations, as the building’s overall construction continues to be phased in.

Main Street Cafe 

Behind the innovation center will be the Main Street Cafe, continuing the wide open and accessible theme alongside a display of breads, sandwiches and other goodies for students and visitors. There will be an atrium open to staff and visitors, allowing for downtime between a busy schedule. The Kehrl Auditorium will be more pronounced and have more visibility due to better egress.

Goals 

The goal of the renovations are to create transparency and heighten visibility, as well as creating a more aesthetically pleasing scene for the building. Both sides of the entrance will be glass, implementing and displaying this theme as it is visitors’ first impression of the building.

“What we want to do is when visitors come in, there is an expectation that they are going to be able to see what is going on,” said Cerny. “It is important to see because it is part of the outreach in awareness. I mean we want people to see nice things when they come in…When you walk into the facility today, you walk into a very large, long corridor. You have no idea what is on the left or the right, you just walk in,” said Cerny. The renovations will be opening the space so people can see all of it, and smell it with the morning’s fresh bread and bakery items from the café.

The motivations behind the renovations 

The motivations for the renovations are partially due to procedure building update requirements but as mentioned, VisTaTech also serves as a conference center and gets 200,000 people a year who come through; hosting industry and business conferences, political municipalities, and state-of-the-city events. 

“One of our missions is to work with businesses, businesses and industries: to partner, you know so we have obviously Trinity [Health] which is a great healthcare partnership, we have MASCO (Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization) as a great business partnership, we have ELFA-USA (Equipment Leasing and Finance Association ) manufacturing, NYX New York Xpress), Roush, Bosch and all those manufacturers we partner with we believe we are going to support them more with having the conferences here,” said Cerny.

From a business aspect, a key piece or purpose for these specific renovations is with the examination of Michigan’s Population Growth Study and corporations’ movement towards employees staying at home and not returning to offices. 

“At some point, they are going to have to get together, they are going to have to conference and collaborate,” said Cerny. “We think that VisTaTech plays very well because we have a lot of meeting rooms, the Kehrl Auditorium, break-out rooms, DiPinio room and food.”

 The VisTaTech renovations will provide new opportunities to the public, but also aid and benefit the inner workings of Schoolcraft. Magretta has found this project to kick-start a new era to the Foundation and to the college.

“For the past five years I think we have really grown to be a little bit more substantial in terms of the type of support we can give the college. So, this is an exciting project for us as a foundation and hopefully it will leverage some additional funding for the college,” said Magretta.