May 23, 2006

Architect chosen for new OMSA, LGBTQ home

A new LGBTQ student resource center will join the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) and the Amandla Student Resource Center in their new home at 5710 South Woodlawn Avenue, the University announced recently.

Urban Works Architects of Chicago will redesign the building, which currently houses University Publications and the office of Training & Development.

The firm is primarily run by women and minorities, and its clients have included the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Park District, and Chicago State University. It describes itself on its website as a “change agent for socially and environmentally responsive design.”

Discussions about a new space for minority students on campus started several years ago after the ’03–’04 report of the Provost’s Initiative on Minority Issues recommended that the offices of OMSA and the Amandla Center, which is a branch of OMSA, be consolidated into a central space on campus. Currently, OMSA is in the Administration Building, and the Amandla Center is in the East Tower of Harper Library.

The decision to add a LGBTQ resource center to the consolidated OMSA/Amandla Center was made recently.

“People weren’t as open to it at first as they are now,” said Latricia Booker, a first-year in the College who participated in discussions about the new space. She said many students warmed up to the idea as they learned more about it.

“It’s a really good thing,” said Booker. “I really hope the new location helps build community within the different minority groups on campus––not just racial minority, but also sexual minority, religious minority.”

Ana Vasquez, director of OMSA, said she expects the renovation to cost around $1 million. Other sites considered were the Ingleside Building and the former Ida Noyes pool.

OMSA officials hope that the new location will become an informal gathering place for students, as well as a location for Registered Student Organizations to meet.