Tech connector project to continue
Posted 10-10-02
By Tre Bischof
News Editor

Louisiana Tech University architecture will students continue with the Tech-Ruston connector project the two entities worked on last school year when students meet for a 26-hour brainstorming session this weekend at the Ruston Civic Center.

Last year, fifth-year architecture students, who graduated in May, got together for a similar event at the Tech student center to review places where the city and university were lacking.

Tech architecture professor Karl Puljak said last year the students focused on the blighted area between the university and downtown.

He said the students felt there was no real connector between the two and many students did not realize Ruston had a downtown area.

This year the focus will be a little different.

"We're going to focus on downtown and get back to the issue that this is a college town," Puljak said. "Last year the main thing was looking at the property between Tech and downtown."

Puljak said the focus is in line with the plan the city has with its Main Street program. Main Street is a national program designed to revitalize downtown areas.

In the spring, students from the fifth-year course built an information kiosk at Railroad Park, structures at Cook Park and Tech's Hide-A-Way Park and the beginnings of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology.

Puljak said though it is early in the process this year, the goal is still to get students to take part in construction.

"We kinda like what we started and we wanted to do it again," Puljak said, adding the class will focus on the entrance to Tech from downtown off the U.S. Highway 167 exit off Interstate 20.

During the early part of the year, the students have looked into the many projects being worked on in the city. Of those, he cited the restoration of the Dixie Theatre and the I-20 service road connector project. The program will be part of a fifth-year class in the School of Architecture.

Puljak said downtown could benefit from the contributions from these students and the possible attractions that can be brought to the area.

"Are there ways we can make this more than just for people to do their one-stop shopping?" Puljak asked.

Architecture students conducted an informal survey of Tech students to determine what their needs are and Puljak said the students responded by saying their needs are not being met with the current downtown climate.

One key to the program, Puljak said, is getting people from the city to come and make suggestions to the students.

"We want to get people from the community to talk about what they think," he said. "Everybody has some ideas. Anything they can offer, the students can benefit from."
The program begins at 8 a.m. and residents can present ideas from until 10 a.m. Saturday at the Civic Center. All residents are encouraged to attend