Space To Clown Around

January 14, 2015

By Barney Mansavage

In a previous article I wrote about the renovation of Building 22, The Center for Student Success, at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Olympia, Washington. That project revamped a tired old building and gave it new purpose and new life, abuzz with activity and vitality and a range of uses that had not occurred in the same way on campus or in the facility ever before.

Well, it was a wonderful surprise to attend a recent event there and see the idea of "new uses" fabulously extended. On Saturday, October 4, 2014, the College's foundation held its annual fundraiser for student scholarships. What used to be the Harvest Moon Gala had become something truly spectacular.

I have attended this event a few times in the past and it is usually in the adjacent Student Union, Building 27. Ping pong tables are folded and put away, and the Union's main spaces are set with round tables for a catered dinner. Usually we have a small video or a slideshow of images about students at the College, followed by some words from SPSCC's president, maybe a guest speaker, and then a request for donations and other support. At this point the evening quickly winds down.

In 2012, the Gala occurred during Building 22's construction when it was pretty much an open skeleton. SPSCC orchestrated the entry to Building 27 such that you came from the south, across the campus creek and then saw Building 22 under renovation, all lit up in the early evening. I was hopeful then that the College would eventually use the completed B22 as the venue for this gathering in years to come.

Well this was the year, and SPSCC outdid itself!

The Harvest Moon Gala got rebranded into the "SPSCC Experience" and the whole thing took on a circus atmosphere. Complete with Teatro Zinzanni or Cirque du Soleil style performers, the "Experience" was much more lively than anything the College has done before, and the party went well into the evening.

Highlights included lots of great displays of student uses in the new building

  • Champagne served by upside down trapeze artists
  • Three aerial acrobatic performances
  • A live-fire marshmallow bar for s'mores, supervised by fire-science students and volunteer fireman
  • A creme brulee station with the custard tops fired to crackling golden brown by welding students
  • The new media room's "green screen" transformed into a "selfie studio" for taking fun shots with zany backdrops.

The building did a great job of transitioning from a sunny fall afternoon with great daylighting into a colorfully lighted circus tent! Just the right atmosphere to clown around, have some fun and really get acquainted with an amazing new member of the SPSCC campus!

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Barney Mansavage

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