Construction and Renovation Projects Reflect Strategic Priorities
St. John’s launched a number of significant construction and renovation projects during the 2014–15 academic year that reflect the University’s commitment to ensuring student success and enhancing the teaching and learning environment, two of the four strategic priorities introduced by President Gempesaw at his investiture last October.
A major effort involves the creation of separate, enhanced facilities for The Peter J. Tobin College of Business (TCB) and the College of Professional Studies (CPS). Construction began in August 2015 on the multiphase, $25 million capital project. The colleges have shared space in Bent Hall for 35 years. When work is completed, the Tobin College will occupy four floors of a remodeled Bent Hall, while CPS moves to an upgraded second floor of St. Augustine Hall.
“The renovation of Bent Hall will be transformative for the Tobin College of Business,” said Victoria Shoaf, Ph.D., dean. “The new features will accommodate flexibility in teaching and learning styles, as well as supporting sophisticated educational practices and a technologically advanced financial information lab.”
According to Jeffrey P. Grossmann, J.D., interim dean of CPS, “Our new facilities— including labs and seminar rooms—will enable our talented staff and distinguished faculty to better serve our students through innovative, collaborative spacing and a state-of-the-art student engagement environment.”
Throughout the spring, committees from both schools met weekly to determine the furniture, colors, and other interior design specifications. As summer began, the committees chose two architectural firms to do the construction. TCB selected CannonDesign, which specializes in higher education architecture; CPS awarded its contract to The Switzer Group, the firm behind the award-winning common areas in SJU’s new Manhattan campus.
The Bent Hall blueprint encompasses approximately 50,000 square feet. Updates to St. Augustine Hall will take place in two stages: the first covering 22,000 square feet; the second, 5,000 square feet. CPS’s new quarters will be ready for occupancy by Spring 2016, and TCB will move into Bent Hall at the start of the fall 2016 semester.
Brian Baumer, associate vice president, Department of Campus Facilities and Services, observed that the new TCB and CPS features reflect the trend in higher education toward intimate, flexible teaching environments instead of larger lecture halls. He noted, “Moveable furniture that transforms learning environments will enable instructors to teach in their own unique ways and contribute to student retention, comfort, and academic and career advancement.”
Also on the Queens campus, booth seating and a Mongolian grill are being installed in the Montgoris Hall cafeteria. The Hollis and DaSilva Hall lounges and study spaces are being modernized with moveable furniture; laundry-room equipment is being replaced; and Sullivan Hall’s basement-level air conditioning and heating units are being upgraded. The University also is repaving 175,000 square feet of concrete walkways, roadways, and parking lots, while repairing the facades of 10 campus buildings.
At the Staten Island campus, the main floor of the Loretto Memorial Library is being transformed into a multipurpose learning commons, thanks to a $250,000grant from the Richmond County Savings Foundation. “While drawing attention to the campus’s beautiful New York Harbor view, the open design will make the space a perfect setting for sharing academic and community events,” said James O’Keefe, Ph.D., vice provost.