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Student center renovation breaks ground

By Brenna McKinley
On September 6, 2012

  • Vaughn33Teresa
  • Vaughn33Teresa

Students have returned to Marist campus this fall to find ground broken on a new construction project underway outside of the Student Center.

The tall green construction fencing and temporary sidewalks have made this project much more obvious to the onlooker than the recent renovations of the ground and first floors of the Lowell Thomas Communications Center, which has been abuzz with acclaim from students and faculty alike for its new media facilities and interior design reminiscent of the Hancock Center, which made its debut on campus in Spring 2011.

The Student Center renovations promise 23,000 square feet worth of enhancements to the Performing Arts Room, Nelly Goletti Theatre, Student Government Association Office, dining hall and student activity spaces. Deemed a "multi-purpose academic building" by Marist Public Affairs, this $27 million project will provide a brand new home to the Marist Music Department, though it will be open for use by students and faculty of all disciplines. The building will include three classrooms, separate band and choral rehearsal halls, a string ensemble room, nine practice rooms, a music library, a piano lab, a computer lab, a conference room and four faculty offices.

The promise of new, state-of-the-art facilities has students excited for the renovation's completion.

"I think they look fantastic," freshman Caryn Nienstadt said of the renovation plans. "Whenever I go into the Rotunda and see the plans, I get excited."

The renovations are taking place at an opportune time for underclassmen.

"As a freshman, I am very glad that we are going to have a new facility by the time I am a sophomore," Nienstadt said. "I believe the end result outweighs the inconvenience and the sight of construction on campus."

Unfortunately, members of the senior class will not be around to see the end result or utilize the new facilities.

"It's really a shame that these renovations are taking place while the senior class is on their way out," senior Kay Hardaker said. "I would have loved to be around to enjoy the renovations, but it's very exciting for the underclassmen, and as a tour guide, I think it's a great selling point for prospective students."

Also included in renovation plans are a series of dramatic changes to the dining hall, key features of which are to be an atrium and an outdoor terrace, as well as student lounges and an area specially designated for quiet dining and study. The renovations will also increase capacity by 200 seats.

The new, three-story building will adjoin Marist's original Student Center, encompassing modern Hudson Valley gothic style in red brick and grey stone. The project is under the design of the Robert A.M. Stern architecture firm, the same firm that designed the Hancock Center, McCann Center addition and the new campus gates that were constructed concurrently with the Route 9 underpass.

The decision to add onto the current facilities rather than demolish them and start over is just one of the ways the renovations have remained environmentally conscious. Improvements to the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems as well as a new glass curtain wall all contribute to the new building's energy efficiency and thus its impact on the environment.

The Student Center renovation project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2013. Students can keep up with construction updates by following Marist on Twitter and Facebook.

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