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LEWISBURG, Pa. — Dennis Hawley, associate vice president for facilities, discusses Academic West and downtown projects. || Related news story: Academic West
Q: Construction of a new academic building, Academic West, will begin in about eight weeks. What's the status of that project?
A: Academic West will be on the south side of Bertrand Library and is the beginning of what will eventually be a new academic quad. Around the end of March a fence will go up, Fraternity Road will be blocked at Coleman Drive and contractors will begin preparing the site. We'll work on that project for about a year and a half, and Academic West will open for classes in August of 2013.
Q: Why is Academic West a priority?
A: By building some larger classrooms in Academic West, we will be able to modify classrooms in other buildings to better support Bucknell's approach to teaching and its small class sizes. For instance, a class in Coleman Hall might be held in a room with 50 tablet-arm chairs, but the room would be better suited with movable tables and chairs to accommodate about 24 people. Of course, the new, larger classrooms are large only by Bucknell standards — the largest is 72 seats.
Academic West will also enable us to bring academic departments together. Right now, some faculty members within the same department are housed in separate buildings. And that's a hindrance, especially to newer faculty members — they need to interact with their colleagues and be near their mentors.
Q: What are some of the special architectural features of Academic West?
A: Hearth spaces — places where faculty, students and staff can informally interact as they await classes or as they're studying between classes. We have a really nice hearth space in Dana Engineering, but we have very few others around campus. Academic West will have a number of attractive spaces where people will be able to put their heads together on group projects, plug in their laptops to a flat-screen TV to work on presentations, and study between classes.
The building will also be built using sustainable practices according to LEED silver certification standards. Most visually noticeable will be a vegetated, green roof.
Q: What else is happening on the south side of campus?
A: Fifty acres have been under development since last spring in order to prepare to build Academic West, as two fraternity houses — Lambda Chi Alpha and Kappa Delta Rho had to be removed. We've built new residences for the two fraternities, both of which are LEED certified. Lambda Chi will move into its new space right after Spring Break.
In addition to these construction projects, planning is underway for new student housing. Most of the utilities have been run, and Bucknell is studying the type of housing we want to build. Our target is to open up some student housing by August of 2015.
Beyond that, Academic East will eventually form the other side of the new quad, and an art building is in the pipeline.
Q: What's happening with regard to facilities in downtown Lewisburg?
We've also acquired and renovated the Federal Building, which was the old federal courthouse and Post Office, which will remain on the first floor. The Development staff will move to the Federal Building when it opens in the beginning of April. This will open up other office spaces on campus, creating a domino effect of office moves.
The DeWitt Building on Market Street is another downtown project. One of its two upper floors will house the Small Business Development Center, which is associated with the College of Engineering. The other floor will house the Bucknell University Entrepreneurs Incubator, a center that's run through some government programs to stimulate small businesses. It's a natural pairing for Bucknell, especially with some of our students being young entrepreneurs and needing a place to have their first office.
Finally, we're working to make the campus more pedestrian friendly and to address parking, traffic, environmental and sustainability issues. We're building parking lots and continuing to close roads and make walking paths more available. And we're studying the possibility of making connections to the local Buffalo Valley Rail Trail.
Interviewed by Molly O'Brien-Foelsch
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