Not everyone is upset about Pulliam pool’s closure.
Pulliam Pool closed last month after nearly 50 years of use so that the space can be renovated and reassigned to the School of Art and Design. The school’s faculty, labs and studios are located in the blue barracks — what was supposed to be temporary classroom space on the east side of campus but has remained in use four decades longer than expected.
While the users of Pulliam pool are upset about the loss of the pool, art and design students and faculty are excited about the move.
The redesign is estimated to cost $7 million as the pools will be decommissioned, a new floor will be installed and new studios, classrooms and faculty offices get constructed. As a result, art and design students will have space that is newer, bigger and more modern than their blue barracks location.
“I’m super excited about the move,” Alyssa Issler, a senior from Atwood studying art, said. “I think it will be really good. It’s kind of frustrating working in a major where we are supposed to design beautiful things, but we are in a really ugly space. It’s not really a motivational space.”
Issler said she understands why Pulliam pool users are upset, but she feels like the space will now benefit more people than it previously did.
“I understand why people are upset, but I didn’t even know Pulliam had a pool until I was a sophomore,” she said.
Steve Belletire, a professor of industrial design, said the move is needed because the design program consists of approximately 220 industrial design and communication design undergraduate students residing within the School of Art and Design.
Belletire said that the students deserve a better space because they consistently receive national and international awards.
“Design is a visually creative profession, and the place and space where it is taught should reflect that fundamental tenet,” he said. “Overall, the potential for growth of our program will no doubt benefit from a new space that reflects the actual quality and caliber of our program. The move is also essential to help the current SIUC mission of recruiting and retaining students.”
Belletire called the current location an ongoing embarrassment and said the department has had to make excuses while recruiting potential students and faculty.
“We know instances where students chose not to attend based on the condition and appearance of the current building,” he said. “We are orphaned from the main campus and put up with train and road noise constantly.”
Issler agreed and said she is excited that the new location is closer to the rest of campus. She also said she hopes the new class area will be more spacious.
“It’s far away from campus and it’s an eyesore for the campus,” she said. “It feels cramped. It’s so small and we feel separated from the rest of the students on campus.”
Kay Zivkovich, a senior faculty member in the design program who also serves as the interim director, is excited about the move, too.
“Our students are anxious to relocate to a space that can better fulfill their needs, one that is not a temporary facility,” she said.
The move out of the blue barracks is expected to reduce annual operating costs, according to information obtained through a Freedom of Information request. The closure of the pool is expected to save $150,000 annually, while the move out of the blue barracks is expected to annually save $100,000 in electricity, custodial and repair costs.
Alyssa Soler Hutchinson, a junior from Mt. Vernon studying design, echoed Zivkovich. She said students will also be more motivated to do their work once the move is complete.
“It will be fun to have a really huge, creative space to make stuff in,” she said. “When students leave high school or community college, they are looking for a bigger and better place, but coming to this place feels like taking a step back.”
Daniel Moutray, a junior from Energy studying design, said the move will show that the university is making progress and moving forward.
“All of the other buildings are newer, and all the other classrooms are nice and you come over here and it’s old,” he said. “A new space will be pretty good to have.”