March 2, 2017
It was cold, gray and snowing when Gary Jorgensen and Jim Habiger made their way through the construction cacophony inside the Br. Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons, pushed aside plastic sheeting and stepped outside.
No matter. As soon as they walked onto Sherlock Terrace on a late February day, all they could see were inviting possibilities.
“I was standing out there the other day in the sunshine. Beautiful,” said Jorgensen, Saint John’s University’s physical plant director. “I’m sure it’ll be a very popular place on a warm day.”
“How nice will this be for students to come out on a spring day or an autumn day to be out here on the deck?” added Habiger, SJU’s building and facilities manager, as he gestured toward the view of the Abbey Church.
“Having this in the background will really be nice.”
The vision of that bright future has long been a driving force behind the Alcuin Library, Learning Commons and Sherlock Terrace construction projects.
The warm anticipation of its August completion and the vistas from that terrace help brighten even the dingiest winter days.
“I think that was pretty important with (architect) Gregory Friesen,” Habiger said. “It’s very important to have that look of campus – the banner, the church, the guest house, the whole inner campus. It’s a beautiful view.”
“That’s the money shot,” Jorgensen said. “Everything was focused in that direction.”
When the project is completed, an estimated 50-60 students will be able to enjoy that view from rocking chairs, Adirondacks and pedestal seating around high-top tables on the terrace.
Others can look out from “The Schu” – the adjoining Learning Commons coffee shop named after the Kitty and Don Schumacher family – while enjoying beverages and snacks.
“This whole plaza area is aimed at being able to sit here, on the inside or the outside, and look through the glass or on the patio and see the banner,” Jorgensen said.
Snow swirled around his construction hard hat as he said it, and plastic sheeting flapped in the breeze. But Sherlock Terrace and its panoramic views already look like everything that was envisioned on the blueprint.
“A little bit more,” said Jorgensen, who expects the facility to be ready for the start of the fall semester. “It’s fantastic.”
“Some of it was very hard to envision, from paper to that,” Habiger added. “Once you see it – this guy (Friesen) really had some foresight.”