Bay College courtyard nearly complete

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Bay College Vice President of Operations Christine Williams stands next to a metal sculpture of a robin made by Ritch Branstrom of Rapid River, which is on display in the college’s courtyard. The process of upgrading this courtyard is nearly complete.

ESCANABA — The process of upgrading Bay College’s courtyard — the final element of a multi-year renovation and construction project at the college — is nearly complete.

Vice President of Operations Christine Williams described the college’s improved courtyard as an “outdoor learning environment.” Native plants grow throughout the courtyard, and multiple gardens are maintained there.

“The defined gardens are all adopted by Bay College employees (and) students,” Williams said.

Signs are used to indicate the types of plants growing in the courtyard and the student or employee responsible for maintaining each garden. Some of these signs also feature a QR code — a label that can provide additional information when a visitor to the courtyard scans it with a smartphone.

“When they view that QR code, it automatically redirects them to a website,” Williams said.

Another noteworthy element of the courtyard is its use of sculptures. Currently, sculptures in the courtyard include a metal sculpture of a robin made by Ritch Branstrom of Rapid River and an interactive, rotating sculpture of a hummingbird wing designed by Tom Rudd of the Keweenaw area.

The college plans to add two other sculptures to the courtyard soon. One of these sculptures is a large metal checkmark designed by local artist John Burroughs, which should be installed in the center of the courtyard this summer.

“It’s 18 feet on one side, six feet on the other,” Williams said of the sculpture.

According to Williams, the checkmark sculpture will also function as a sundial.

Along with the sculptures, Bay’s redesigned courtyard is home to a veterans memorial. Williams said the memorial, which was dedicated in early May, has been well-received by community members.

“We’ve had several folks come and just sit and reflect in that space,” she said.

Other courtyard features include tables with charging stations and “solar umbrellas,” aluminum chairs that can be moved around as needed and multiple spots where visitors can use hammocks.

Bay plans to utilize the redesigned courtyard in a variety of ways — including its Lunchtime Live concert series, which is set to start with a performance by the Blue Auroras at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Lunchtime Live concerts will continue to be held every Thursday through Aug. 8, except July 4 and July 18.

Williams said one of the final pieces of work that needs to be done in the courtyard is the planting of plants for a “living” Native American medicine wheel this summer. The wheel will be dedicated in the fall by members of the Hannahville Indian Community.

As the upgrades made to the courtyard were part of Bay College’s Hub project, the dedication of the medicine wheel will also mark the official conclusion of that project. Construction work on the Hub project began in April 2016.

In addition to the courtyard, the project has included work on the Student Success Center, the Bay College Library and the Math and Science Building.