The Romeo B. Garrett Cultural Center is currently undergoing its two-phase development that began after President Stephen Standifird announced the project in June.
As of right now, the first phase of the upgrade is finishing up, which includes cosmetic updates to the exterior and interior of the building.
According to Jhoanna Vega-Rocha, assistant director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), the main changes to the exterior include replacing the front sidewalk, sandblasting the brick, adding signage and replacing the doors.
In the interior, the plans are to digitize the front foyer, add a monitor, and to update the auditorium space with new lighting, carpet, and paint.
Additionally, the entry/interior stairwell space is also being updated to provide cultural history information about Dr. Romeo B. Garrett’s legacy and Bradley’s cultural history.
According to Vega-Rocha, some of the upgrades that were supposed to be finished by the start of the fall semester, like cosmetic changes to the auditorium and implementing new technology, were not completed until later.
“The updates came in an interesting time in the year because of the COVID restrictions and minimum interactions across all offices on campus,” Vega-Rocha said. “We decided to completely close due to the renovations. Some challenges were the delay of installation of the new doors and technology associated with the doors. Those weren’t completed until the end of September.”
Phase two is still in the planning and execution stage but will include ongoing interior updates on the second floor, along with furniture updates and replacing outdated technology.
Kristyn Stallings, a junior animation major, feels that the renovations to the Garrett Center were long overdue.
“The Garrett Center certainly wasn’t in horrible condition, but it wasn’t the best either,” Stallings said. “Just outdated I think. Especially compared to the BECC, the GCC and even the library. It was very plain, old fashioned, and easy to miss.”
However, Stallings has mixed feelings about the new renovations.
“On one hand, I’m definitely happy and grateful about the renovations, especially considering the age and condition that the Garrett Center was in. It felt like an old repurposed church,” Stallings said. “But on the other hand, it felt like they were just trying to appease the people of color here after everything that happened over the summer.”
Additionally, Stallings felt that if the events over the summer calling for social justice never happened that this process would never have occured.
Vega-Rocha said she is excited about the upgrade, especially because considered the Garrett Center a second home when she attended Bradley.
“I was involved in the organizations that held events in the Garrett Center and we always talked about how the building needed some love,” Vega Rocha, 2017 graduate, said. “Being a part of this process has been very interesting because many of the campus partners are experts in their parts so I learned a lot.”