A new Welcome Center at Loras College has become a destination for students, staff, faculty and community members with its modern day amenities and reflection of the college’s place as the oldest in Iowa.
The highly anticipated campus facility, designed by Origin Design, opened in October 2015 and features a portion of the Loras Bookstore and only the second Einstein Brothers Bagels in the state.
The Welcome Center is the continuation of a long relationship between Origin Design and Loras College that included developing a comprehensive Master Plan for the college and led to a series of updates across campus.
With recent construction on campus of an addition to the Alumni Campus Center, the new Alumni Resource Center and new Athletics and Wellness Center, the intersection of Cox Street and Loras Boulevard (where the Welcome Center now resides) has become an increasingly important access point for the college. That led the college in 2008 to acquire Cox Boulevard from the City of Dubuque and landscape it to be a pedestrian boulevard renamed Loras Parkway.
In 1914, Loras College constructed the central boiler plant at the corner of Cox Street and Loras Boulevard. Built into the bedrock of a “cliff,” the boiler plant was a full story on the east side and only rose above grade by 3 feet on its west side at Cox Street. The new Welcome Center uses the 101-year-old foundation of the college’s boiler plant to support the new structure.
With its concrete waterline, cobbled brick, higher interior ceilings and sloped shingled roofs, the new Welcome Center is intended to be reminiscent of, and blend in with, the other older buildings and homes on the campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods. The design has led to many commenting that it seems like the new structure has always been there.
The new Welcome Center design includes both inside and outside seating and takes advantage of both its prominent location and the picturesque eastern views to campus.