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Hurd Welcome Center: A Sneak Peek

An alumna found a side door propped open and couldn't pass up the opportunity to explore

I find myself in Waco quite often these days, so it wasn’t abnormal for me to exit University Parks. I had every intention to make my usual campus routine: park by the SUB, walk down 5th street, take a selfie in Barfield. Instead, I found myself in awe of the nearly finished Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center and drifted into the freshly paved parking lot.

Make no mistake, the building is massive. But for all the worry people felt about its style and placement, it fits perfectly on the West end of campus.

Courtesy of Carlye Elizabeth Thornton (’14, MA ’18)

It was after 5 p.m., so the front doors were locked, but I naturally found a side door propped open and dipped inside. What I beheld went to the tune of one of Hans Zimmer’s more delicate themes. The interior walls, housing conference rooms and offices, are a stark black. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the choice until the center of the building unveiled itself – a bright, marble white cavity letting the best of Baylor’s light shine in.

Courtesy of Carlye Elizabeth Thornton (’14, MA ’18)

The photo with the gold BU and green LED ribbon is just one of the four pillars inside this space. Each pillar has an unique, immersive experience, but that particular one is near the front doors and plays a medley of our fight song, That Good Old Baylor Line, and Bears roaring a “Sic Em.” It creates a moving experience, one of nostalgia and pride, as it echoes through the building. When I walked in there, I actually started to tear up.

Courtesy of Carlye Elizabeth Thornton (’14, MA ’18)

There’s still some work to be done. Workers were placing final touches on a coffee and soda bar; furniture needs to be unwrapped and staged. I’m sure some AV equipment somewhere need to be installed.

But the real thing missing is people.

Courtesy of Carlye Elizabeth Thornton (’14, MA ’18)

It’s been said this structure will be the front door to campus, and, goodness, it will be a stylish one. Every detail is so thoughtful. Every viewpoint has a purpose. It’s all an effort to welcome every Bear – whether recent grad or seasoned alum – HOME.

Carlye Elizabeth Thornton (’14, MA ’18) is a digital strategist at Southwest Airlines. She previously worked for Baylor’s social media team, running the official university Instagram account.

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