Web exclusive: University breaks ground on new construction projects

Students, faculty and administrators break ground on the two new projects set to be finished fall 2011. From left, the Bronc; Dr. Pat Chmel, professor emeritus and former chair of Fine Arts; Miriam Mills, assistant professor in the Fine Arts Department; junior Amanda Matticks, outgoing SGA secretary; junior Brian Guzman, incoming SGA president; Julie Karns, vice president for Finance and Treasurer; President Mordechai Rozanski; Dr. Jeff Halpern, associate professor of sociology; Dr. Don Steven, provost and vice president of academic affairs; Dr. Jerry Rife, professor in the Fine Arts Department; senior Frank Romano, outgoing SGA president; and senior Alex D’Amico, outgoing SGA treasurer.

The University broke ground on Friday, May 7, on two construction projects set to be unveiled at the start of the fall 2011 semester.

The first, a 21,250 square foot new academic building to be built next to Moore Library, will feature nine multi-purpose classrooms, two seminar classrooms, 16 faculty offices and a faculty lounge for the history and philosophy departments. Outside of the new academic building will be a full plaza with a sitting wall where students can meet, different walkways and new landscaping. The project will be LEED-silver certified, though Mike Reca, associate vice president of Auxiliary Services and the projects’ planning team leader, is hoping for gold.

“It’s just a wonderful thing to be able to say that we are contributing a new facility to the academic program at the university,” said President Mordechai Rozanski.

The second job, an expansion of the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) Theater, will allow “bigger and better musical productions,” Reca said. The current theater’s stage will be expanded from 19 feet to 36 feet. There will be a fly space, wings on the sides of the stage for sets to come in and out, two full dressing rooms and a green room. In the basement, there will be a 1,400 square foot multi-purpose practice room with a sprung floor. Also, one personnel elevator for handicap accessibility and one freight elevator to bring large sets up to the stage will be added to the BLC. Inside, a new lighting and sound system will be available.

The expansion of the BLC Theater will benefit the arts on both the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses, where arts programs have been thriving, Rozanski said.

“With the creation recently of the Westminster College of the Arts, we’ve had tremendous success on both campuses,” he said. “In the School of Fine and Performing Arts, we’ve seen our enrollment increase by some 126 percent over the last several years.”

The combined cost of both projects is about $11 million, and funding has been secured through a “wonderfully generous bequest,” according to Rozanski. Construction on the new academic building and the BLC Theater expansion will begin soon.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were representatives from the Lawrence Town Council — Mayor Michael Powers, Councilwoman Pam Mount and Councilman Bob Bostock — as well as Mercer County Freeholders Pat Colavita and John Cimino, and former president of Rider University Bart Luedeke.

Brian Guzman, incoming SGA president, highlighted the importance of both construction projects to the atmosphere on campus.

“The two additions will create an environment which the students will be proud of for generations to come,” he said. “The student body is thrilled and looks forward to seeing what magnificent opportunities await them.”

Check back for updates throughout the summer. For full coverage of the construction of the new academic building and the BLC Theater expansion, look for the first issue of The Rider News on the first day of class, Wednesday, Sept. 8.

-Mock-ups courtesy of Spiezle Architectural Group
This conceptual rendering depicts the planned expansion of the BLC Theater.
The new academic building will be situated next to Moore Library.
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