On February 2, 1970, the Cloyd Heck Marvin Center opened its doors to the University community and soon became the most heavily used facility on campus. As a community building, it enabled all members of the University to meet, dine, talk, work and relax in an atmosphere where self-expression and creative interaction could be promoted. It became more than just a building – it became a community center.
Over the years, all under the same roof, the Marvin Center has hosted numerous entertainers, politicians and thinkers. It has been the center of student protests and student parties such as Ski MC and Marvin Gras. As the needs of the community have changed, so too have the services offered. Where once there was a barber shop, record store and typing room, there is now a convenience store, travel service, computer store and lab. Day in and day out, the Marvin Center has brought students together with other students, faculty, staff and members of the D.C., national and international communities.
Today, 28 years later, the Marvin Center is still a community center and the focal point of campus life. Through the Marvin Center Governing Board and the work of countless student organizations, Program Board, the Student Association and a dedicated staff, the Marvin Center continues to provide cultural, social and recreational programs aiming to make a free time activity a cooperative factor with academic study.
On an average day, more than 14,000 people pass through the Marvin Center’s doors and more than 30 group activities are accommodated in the various program and meeting rooms. Last year alone, 12,770 events were hosted with an average of 717 room reservations made per month. Such heavy usage results in substantial wear and tear on the facility requiring the continuous enhancement of the building and its appearance in order to ensure the needs of all users are met.
With this in mind, the Marvin Center will undergo several changes as part of a two-and-a-half to three-year building renovation and addition. Programming and design for this project began several months ago, and construction may start as early as this summer. The renovations will take place throughout the building and focus on code compliance, deferred maintenance and accessibility issues.
Within the scope of these change several enhancements are expected such as improvements to lounge areas, the Continental Ballroom (third floor), the ground floor concourse and the fifth floor. Also planned is a modest expansion to the 21st Street side of the building that will create a new public atrium with lounge space.
As this project progresses, every effort will be made to ensure that the usual building services remain available throughout the renovation period. In anticipation of these changes and the exciting new opportunities they will offer, the Student and Academic Support Administrative Services and the Governing Board look forward to furthering the role of the Marvin Center as the center of our community.
-The writer is chair of the Marvin Center Governing Board.