By Katie Zeck
Freshly sharpened pencils, crisp, unused notebooks, cleared-out, reliable flash drives and a recently completed academic building and Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) theatre expansion all point to the start of the 2011-2012 school year.
Construction at both sites had been progressing on track since ground was first broken on the $11 million projects in May 2010. Both have met their projected completion dates for the start of this school year and will be open to use for both students and faculty when classes start today.
According to Mike Reca, associate vice president of Auxiliary Services and the projects’ original planning team leader, the projects have Certificates of Occupancy and are fully operational.
“There will be minor work being done in both facilities to fully complete the projects,” Reca said. “The BLC Theater will have additional production equipment installed through the month of September and possibly into the first weeks of October.”
However, he ensures that this work will not disrupt the functions in either building. Returning students and faculty witnessed the ongoing construction on the Lawrenceville campus during the past year and have anxiously anticipated these final products.
“The new academic building and theater expansion are both great additions to the Rider campus,” said sophomore psychology major Carey Gatti. “I think any Rider student or faculty member who is able to utilize the new academic building will enjoy and benefit from its perfect mix of cutting edge technology and traditional tools necessary to achieve success. As for the theater expansion, I believe it will allow Rider students to showcase their talents on a whole new level. It is definitely top notch.”
The incoming freshmen are also looking forward to what these new additions to Rider will bring to the campus atmosphere.
“It makes [the campus] look fresh and new,” said freshman accounting major Anthony DeFranco. “I’m excited to be able to have classes and spend time in the new buildings.”
The new academic building is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified at the Silver level. According the U.S Green Building Council, this certification means that the strategies implemented in building the structure and the materials used to build it were deemed up to par with its measures of sustainability. According to Reca, the lights in each classroom are motion censored and the entire building as a whole shuts off at 11:30 p.m. each night as a way to better conserve energy. The nine classrooms, two seminar rooms and 16 faculty offices will mostly be used by the history and philosophy departments. Additionally, there is a quality multipurpose meeting room that possesses state-of-the-art technology in video communication for those in different states and countries. The room will be open to any and all members and organizations of the Rider community to reserve for use.
In regard to the BLC Theater addition, Reca said that the structure was designed to “accommodate enhanced productions for the Westminster College of the Arts, student life events and instructional use for the university.”
The expansion houses an increased stage area from 675 square feet to more than 1,500 square feet with additional wings, a fly space for backdrops and sets, two new dressing rooms with counters, make-up mirrors, and adjoining bathrooms, a green room, a set building shop with a garage door so sets can easily be transported to and from the different theaters and a rehearsal room that is almost identical in size to the actual stage.
“There is also enhanced sound, lighting and performance equipment throughout,” Reca added.
“The completed theatre in the BLC is another giant step forward to continue the tremendous success of Rider’s Fine and Performing Arts Program, and the New Academic Building is proof that our university is forever progressing,” said SGA Vice President Lorelei Colbert. “These two completed construction projects will benefit all of our students greatly.”
“The new facilities not only met, but exceeded our expectations,” Reca said. “Through the planning process and the communication during construction, this total team effort with the university administration, faculty, staff and the external professional services firms, provided quality learning, working and meeting spaces for the entire campus community.”