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Love it, don’t list it Nifkin Lounge Gets Summertime Renovation9/10/2018


Like an HGTV show episode, Nifkin Lounge underwent a makeover over the spring and summer in response to concerns from the Undergraduate Student Association (USA). This fall, it's time for the big reveal.

More than a year ago, USA student leadership of the class of 2018 decided updates to the popular gathering spot, formally called Alumni Lounge but typically referred to as Nifkin Lounge in honor of ESF's unofficial mascot, in Marshall Hall were among their top priorities. This aligned with objectives of the Alumni Association, which originally converted the space to a lounge in 1991, said Rex Giardine, associate facilities program coordinator in the Department of Facilities Planning, Design and Construction (FPDC).

The lounge, heavily used by students, staff and faculty, was last updated around 2005.

The open-concept gathering space would need new paint, flooring, furnishings and window treatments. Erin Primerano, an interior designer from QPKDesign familiar with higher education trends in general and ESF in particular, was hired. Multiple meetings between the designer and stakeholders - USA, the Office of Alumni Relations, Student Affairs, and members of the ESF facilities staff - were held to plan the updated look and feel of Nifkin.

The color scheme features warm neutrals to highlight the intrinsic architectural features of the walls, columns, beams and ceilings, with the use of bold accent colors for each of the four corners. A splash of light blue for the ceiling was used over the central space. "The seemingly disjointed look of the new paint scheme against the old lounge furniture and carpet turned more than a few heads this summer," said Giardine.

The heavy velour drapes were replaced with translucent roller shades that not only brighten the room but showcase the full brilliance of the stained-glass center window depicting "Adirondack Splendor," a gift of the ESF class of 1950.

Samples of soft lounge seating from multiple manufacturers were delivered and tested by students who provided feedback to the design committee. "Lounge furniture beyond comfort and durability was needed to meet flexibility required for the full range of student use and arrangements," said Giardine. "Pieces that can be easily moved individually yet grouped in any number of configurations to create sofas or rows were favored."

An eye-catching patterned carpet, staggered in four coordinated colorways, that ties in with key colors of the paint was installed and upholstery fabric on the new furniture was chosen to pull the room together.

"The Alumni Lounge is a work in progress," Brian Boothroyd, assistant director of FPDC, said in an email. "It has been temporarily pressed into service to accommodate daily classes, pending completion of the Illick 5 lecture hall renovations." The staff in Instructional Technology Services made improvements to the audiovisual equipment and provided an instructor podium to make this possible, Boothroyd said. "FPDC is looking forward to restoring the space to it primary uses as a student lounge and meeting space, and continues to work on a number of details for additional space improvements."