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Construction To Open A New Chapter at GRCC

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By Jacquelyn Zeman

Students who stopped by Grand Rapids Community College at any point during the summer, would likely have noticed that multiple floors inside the Main Building and of Cook Hall were under construction, as well as several other parts of the surrounding areas in the building. Workers in hard hats scramble about the campus in order to have the reconstructed areas ready for the start of class today.

The summer of 2013 has served as a great time to put a new look on our campus. “We are on time with the construction, and as planned we will be done with the entire summer’s project in mid-September,” Vicki Janowiak, GRCC’s executive director of operational planning said when giving Collegiate editors a tour of campus renovations in progress.

Extensive renovations were made to the fourth and fifth floors of Cook Hall. New heating and ventilation systems were installed, new light fixtures. Many more restroom facilities, elevators, group and one on one tutoring rooms, many more windows, and new computer labs have been added. The business department has three new computer labs on the second floor of the Main Building, with an additional eight new classrooms coming in September. The nursing program will have all new bed simulation labs on the fourth floor of Cook. Health sciences resources and the tutoring lab is now going to be on the fourth floor of Cook, and the new reading, writing and language arts tutoring lab will be located on Cook’s fifth floor.

There will be more construction going on during the school year until September, however, most of the newly constructed area should be ready by Monday. Collegiate editors saw the week before classes began that things were really coming together fast. Final touches, such as furniture and lab equipment had been taken into some of the nearly finished rooms.

The buildings that are now the Main Building and Cook Hall at GRCC were not always a part of GRCC. They were at first a part of a high school that opened in the 1920s called Davis Technical High School. When the school was closed in 1943, the buildings were taken over by Grand Rapids Junior College, which was established in 1914. Roughly a century later, now known as Grand Rapids Community College, the administration is looking to put a fresh modern look on an old campus.

“The day after commencement, the construction crew came in, removed all technology and furniture we wanted to keep, and they have not stopped since.” Said President Ender in his address to the GRCC staff during last week’s Convocation. This goes to show that the project really was a summer affair that was pushed to start right away, going from May and to end a little into first semester. Due to donations made by a couple of different benefactors part way into the project, we are definitely fitting in with the budget originally set for the project. Due to these unexpected donations though, project managers had to go back and review some of their plans to add to their old construction plans.

In addition GRCC has added breakout rooms for students to hang out in, study, or relax in between classes. Many seating options have been added throughout the building for additional space for students to have to themselves on campus. Technological improvements have been made to enhance educational quality for the nursing department and the business school as well. There are many more simulation rooms for the nursing students, as well as computer labs specifically designed for the business school.

“Many things in the newly constructed area should be ready for when class starts on Monday, however the entire project should be unveiled in mid-September as planned,” Janowiak said. When asked about future renovation plansshe said “next summer, GRCC plans on re-constructing the next two floors below what they did this year in the Main that way the entire building will be redone. We are aiming to get the building LEED certified, but this is definitely a long-term goal.”

GRCC administrators say they’re working to make the campus more energy efficient and safe, while respecting the historic integrity of the buildings. If any students need any help getting around the building the first few days of the new semester, there will be GRCC staff members walking around campus wearing “Ask Me” buttons.

More information about campus construction can be found at: www.grcc.edu/financeandadministration/grccunderconstruction.