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Articles: Campus Construction

You have space on campus for a new building, and visions of a cutting-edge learning center dance in your head. The technology-infused building will be so magnetic that admission applications will pour in, professors will clamour for classroom assignments, and local businesses will plead for partnerships.

Of course, funding won’t be an issue because the new technology center will be so innovative and visionary that bonds and grants will stream across your desk like ducks in a pond.

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Many colleges and universities are tempted to revamp buildings because there isn’t enough space to construct new, technology-rich facilities. But sometimes, the amount of renovation required can drive costs so high that it may be less expensive to build something new.

That was the situation at Gulf Coast State College (Fla). College president James Kerley explains that an early candidate for a new technology center was a building from the 1960s that was being used as a tech hub.

The campus student center may once have been the place students passed through on the way to their next class. But these facilities have evolved into bustling destinations that foster campus culture and community.

  • Young Harris College (Ga.) broke ground on a $41 million, 125-square-foot campus center in April. To be the largest structure on campus and completed in fall 2014, the project is the centerpiece of YHC’s master plan. It will house a multipurpose student center, a library, an expanded dining hall, and a banquet facility. Student-facing offices such as admissions and advising will be housed there. VMDO Architects (Charlottesville, Va.) is handling design. The general contractor is Choate Construction Company (Atlanta).

A 46,000-square-foot abandoned furniture warehouse has been given new life as the continuing education and industrial center at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, N.C.


As with many community colleges, Randolph was in need of expansion due to large enrollment growth. Overflowing parking lots as well as classrooms in the machining program at the school led to an overhaul of the old Klaussner Furniture warehouse, located adjacent to the campus’ Health & Science Center and to Randolph Early College High School.

After The Village at Muhlenberg College (Pa.) project (shown) was a success with the use of modular, officials turned to the same delivery method for a current project, an addition to a 150-year-old residence hall.

While a new dorm or learning space might be needed or desirable on campus, facing down the associated headaches of time, mess, and expense can overshadow the benefits the finished project might bring.

Modular construction is an alternative delivery method that can tame some of those issues. Unfortunately, the word modular sends people back to the drafty trailers they remember from elementary school.

“Modular can be concrete and steel,” says Jim Snyder, director of operations for Warrior Group Construction. “It doesn’t have to look like an 8th-grade science class.”

Gone are the days when a basic classroom with a podium and desks was considered an acceptable learning space. In fact, according to CDW-G’s “Learn Now, Lecture Later” report released in June 2012, 47 percent of instructors surveyed said they are moving beyond the lecture-only model. In addition, 71 percent of students and 77 percent of instructors said they use more classroom technology than just two years ago.

The new Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research at Nova Southeastern University (Fla.) is believed by officials to be the largest research facility dedicated to this research area in the nation. So it’s fitting that officials did it up big with the grand opening, featuring President George Hanbury and members of the media taking a ceremonial dive.  The facility is part of NSU’s Oceanographic Center at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park.

Penn Park at  the University of Pennsylvania

At The Ohio State University, the term “master plan” is obsolete. That’s because what traditional master plans often lack—input from an institution’s academic and finance folks—are an integral part of the One Ohio State Framework Plan, shares Amanda Hoffsis, senior director of physical planning.

With any campus building, what’s on the inside counts just as much—and probably more—than what’s on the outside. This is especially true with residence halls, which must include a balance of private and shared spaces. “The buildings need to promote interaction among students to encourage peer-to-peer learning in support of the institution’s academic mission,” says Jackson Kane, an associate and housing specialist at Lord, Aeck & Sargent. That’s no small order.

Plans for the Storm and Nasatir complex at San Diego State U

At San Diego State University, construction is under way on a 100,000-square-foot renovation and 30,000-square-foot expansion of the Storm and Nasatir building complex, built in 1957. The project will allow the buildings to meet current health and safety code standards as well as correct deferred maintenance issues and improve water and energy conservation. It is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.

The Stockton Campus  Center at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Prior to 2011, the sports and events facilities at the University of Mary Washington (Va.) were nothing to write home about. The university’s Dodd Auditorium had a capacity of 1,300 for concerts and other special events, and the Woodard Campus Center gymnasium, which was built in the 1950s, could only seat 500 and couldn’t be used for anything but sporting events.

DeafSpace architectural design elements aid visual communication and help reduce eye strain and fatigue for deaf and hard of hearing people. A new Living and Learning Residence Hall, dubbed LLRH6, is the second construction project  incorporating DeafSpace at Gallaudet University (D.C.).

Four-bedroom Stafford cottage model being built near The University of Mississippi

A community of 160 two- to five-bedroom cottages is under construction near The University of Mississippi campus. Partners in the $37.6-million, 4,700-bed project are EdR (majority owner and manager upon the fall 2013 completion) and Landmark Properties (handling development and construction). The community will have outdoor living areas, a pool, a sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits, and a clubhouse with a fitness center, tanning beds, an internet café, study rooms, a computer lounge, a game room, a golf simulator, and a community kitchen.