Bietz Center meets design team’s expectations

Cameron Kirstein plays ping pong in the Bietz Center in between classes.
(Photo by: Preston Waters)
Cameron Kirstein plays ping pong in the Bietz Center in between classes. (Photo by: Preston Waters)

Written by: Naomi Linder

In the summer of 2021, Southern Adventist University debuted the Bietz Center for Student Life, meant to replace the former student center in Wright Hall. Now, there are clear indicators that the center is being utilized and meeting the expectations that were held during its planning stage,  according to Joey Tolbert, facilities manager of the 43,000 square-foot building.

“I can tell you that this year, as far as usage, from mid-August to the end of September, with just the rooms that I reserve, we had 114 different reservations,” Tolbert said, “meaning that there were 114 different things that took place, either in the third floor testing room, the chapel, the Grid or the common area.”

The Bietz Center also has a popular on-campus eatery on the second floor, CK2. According to Tolbert, this brings in about 800-900 orders a day during the weekdays, meaning that this building is being used by hungry students on a regular day-to-day basis.

According to Yosef Henry, a five-year senior graphic design major, before the Bietz Center made its appearance, students would regularly spend their time on the fourth floor of Wright Hall, where the old student center was located. This was also the site of a former on-campus eatery, KR’s Place. 

Replacing this center was not a spur of the moment decision; Tolbert stated in an interview with the Accent that she thinks it was, “originally going to be built down near Hulsey … and it was maybe 10 years ago that that talk started. But [the Bietz Center] was originally the site of Herin Hall … where the School of Nursing met until they moved to their beautiful building.” 

Herin Hall was demolished in July of 2016, according to Southern’s official Youtube channel, after the nursing classes had moved to what was then known as Florida Hospital Hall, now AdventHealth Hall, in 2011.  

The entire building project was funded by donors, said Tolbert, who are credited on the donor wall found on the second floor of the building. 

Tolbert explained that the center has undergone many changes in design from the first sketches to what it turned into, all in an attempt to make it a spot students would want to spend time in and enjoy.

“When it comes to all of the sofas and chairs that are in the fireside lodge, Becky Djournes was decorating, and she had different sofas and chairs for the students to test out, so they were all actually chosen by Southern students,” Tolbert said. 

Tolbert said that while there is no real way of testing which classes use the building the most, there have been general observations that freshman and sophomores are seemingly the most likely to use at least the study rooms and game rooms available. 

“My student supervisor said that we may not see as many juniors and seniors in the student center because a lot of them live off campus, or they work. They have internships; they just aren’t on campus at the same capacity because they aren’t in the dorms,” Tolbert said.

While it’s difficult to know who exactly has been taking advantage of it the most, according to Southern’s Interior Design Coordinator Becky Djernes, “If students enjoy it and want to hang out there, if students are having fun, making memories and building friendships, if students feel at home there, then the design team’s mission was accomplished.”

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