Summer Campus Renovations Reflect Students' Needs
Providence, R.I.--Student-oriented facilities--classrooms, residence areas, and social spaces--were the centerpiece of a wide-ranging series of renovations across campus at Providence College this summer.
The dust is settling just in time as the College embarks upon a new academic year and welcomes an incoming class of nearly 1,000 freshmen. Classes began on Tuesday, September 6.
Renovations--a traditional rite of summer--took on a sense of urgency this year. Building upon the summer 2010 phase 1 work of a three-year plan to revitalize Harkins Hall, the College completed the major overhaul of PC's historic, signature facility by combining phases 2 and 3 into a frenzied summer timetable.
In addition, substantial renovations were completed in several residence facilities, the Slavin Center, and the Aquinas Quad.
A rundown of the most significant projects follows:
This year's work in Harkins Hall centered on the third through fifth floors, with the prime target being the enhancement of teaching and learning areas. The College created or renovated 12 classrooms in Harkins, making for a total of 16 new/renovated classrooms on campus when four classrooms on the lower level of Phillips Memorial Library are counted.
The most noteworthy of the newly constructed classrooms is a tiered, lecture-style classroom on the third floor of Harkins. The new room includes a specialized sound/amplification system and a projection screen to display large digital images.
There also are three new flexible, collaborative-style classrooms, including one that will serve as a model for the education curriculum, and a relocated and renovated computer lab--also for the education curriculum. Each of the new classrooms is outfitted with modern projection technology and other multimedia equipment.
Other major projects completed at Harkins were:
a new financial services center on the fourth floor that includes offices for financial aid and student accounts/bursar;
a new faculty/staff lounge and a new conference room on the fifth floor;
the renovation of multiple academic and administrative offices, several of which were relocated;
new, energy-efficient windows that are expected to reduce the College's cost of heating the building by more than 30 percent; and
a new roof.
In other exterior improvements, bricks were repointed; the limestone towers and similar structures were repaired; new sidewalks, crosswalks, and landscaping were installed; and the water drainage system was improved so that water will be directed away from the building.
"This building now is ready for the next 100 years, structurally and space-wise. It's a new building," said John M. Sweeney, senior vice president for finance and business/CFO.
Sweeney said he is most excited about the building's classrooms, which he emphasized reflect the latest technology and afford faculty greater versatility in teaching methodology.
While not in Harkins, another example of the enhancement of learning space that has occurred this summer is a new student research and study area on the second floor of Sowa Hall in the science complex. The area is highlighted by a computer cluster as well as individual and group study space.
As part of the College's seven-year housing renovation plan, Davis Hall, located on the East Campus, was overhauled. Student apartments were completely renovated throughout the six-story building. Service areas were upgraded; new ceilings, flooring, closet systems, furniture, and appliances were installed; and all kitchen cabinetry and countertops were replaced.
The elevators also were upgraded in Davis, with work focusing on the internal panels, the control panel, and flooring.
Three other residence facilities were renovated to a lesser extent. The elevators in Bedford Hall were upgraded, new shower stalls and furnishings were installed in the bathrooms in Guzman Hall, and six bathrooms were renovated and all the fixtures replaced in those facilities in Raymond Hall.
PC's student hub, the Slavin Center, and Aquinas Quad likewise received special attention. In Slavin, the changes were designed by a committee led by Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard, O.P. '78 & '82G, College executive vice president and treasurer, and student leaders.
The most noticeable enhancement was the creation of a large "living room" lounge on the lower level of Slavin, just outside the entrance to the Alumni Hall Food Court. The living room, which is furnished with soft chairs, couches, and tables, features a fireplace.
Other student-centered improvements on the lower level of Slavin include a larger and relocated "soft lounge" and renovated offices for several clubs and organizations.
Elsewhere in the building, several offices that serve students--most notably the offices of Student Activities-Involvement-Leadership, Residence Life, and Off-Campus Living--were renovated and relocated. The residence life office was relocated from St. Joseph Hall.
The second phase of renovations to the Aquinas Quad was completed, with the most visible difference being additional walkways and trees. The changes are designed to provide improved pedestrian circulation and handicap access to Aquinas Hall, and to enhance the functionality of the space for recreational and study purposes.
A united effort
Sweeney said he was proud of the work accomplished this summer. Pointing out that the average age of individual buildings on campus is 17 years old compared to 11.2 years for PC's peers, he said the latest improvements reflect the College's ongoing commitment to upgrading its infrastructure. The projects were funded by the amount of building depreciation and earnings from the College's quasi-endowment, he added.
He underscored the fact that buildings remained operational and praised the planning, collaboration, and craftsmanship that took place. The leadership of College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. '80 and the Board of Trustees was critical in supporting the improvements, he said.
Operationally, the expansive work was spearheaded by a team of administrators led by Mark Rapoza '90SCE, assistant vice president for capital projects and facilities planning, and Warren S. Gray '75, assistant vice president for business services. Key partners included the College's Physical Plant staff and hundreds of contractors and union employees, he noted.
"The quality of work has been outstanding," he said. "People have worked long hours under difficult circumstances. It's really a commitment on everyone's part, and the respect shown to the College has been extraordinary."