Redesigning South Campus
In a few short years, Manhattan College’s South Campus (the area near Leo Hall and RLC) will look very different to the college community. A series of ongoing projects are well underway that have already and will continue to impact the appearance and operations of not just that area, but the entire campus.
The first stage of the plan is already complete, with the new Center for Student Success opening in the renovated Thomas Hall this past September. It combines a wide range of student resources on campus including tutoring, graduate school admissions and career development.
The ensuing phases of the plan will then culminate with the opening of a new 30,000 square foot STEM building addition to Leo Hall, a 300-bed apartment style residence hall on the site of the current Mahan Physical Plant Complex and a quadrangle-like south campus green space joining the two.
“It’s probably a little bit of a painful process but the end result will be very, very positive,” Andrew Ryan, Vice President for Facilities, said. “We have to go through some steps in order to get there but the end result will be very positive.”
With the STEM building scheduled to open by September 2020 and the residence hall by Fall 2019, several of those steps are already in motion.
“We are actually in design right now,” Ryan said. “We’re in what’s called the ‘programmatic development phase’ on it.”
Last spring, Ryan worked closely with the deans of the engineering and science schools as well as their relevant department heads to complete a STEM study addressing what needs the new building had to meet.
With that information and continued input from faculty members, architecture firm Mitchell Giurgola went to work designing the new building. The firm is a specialist in higher education science and research facilities.
The current programmatic development involves figuring out how many benches, hoods, gas lines, electrical outlets and other resources the new laboratories will need. The design will transition into detailed design and construction drawings that are set to be finished by October 2017—just a year away.
Ryan expects renderings of the STEM Building to be ready for release with the public in the near future.
A New Residence Hall and South Campus Quad
Concurrently, other stages in the South Campus Master plan are also in progress in order to furnish the new residence hall and nearby green space.
The residence hall is also already in the design phase, with architecture firm Cube 3 undertaking the project. Fittingly, they are known for their work on collegiate residence hall facilities.
The new building will be an apartment-style facility geared towards upperclassmen and is expected to house approximately 300 beds. For comparison, apartment-style Overlook Manor currently houses between 375 and 400 students.
“A couple of the goals are to decant a little out of Overlook, decant a little bit out of Horan, and to have more attractive, affordable, apartment-style housing so that we can retain more students on campus,” Ryan said.
Of course, in order to construct the new residence hall, the Mahan Complex will need to be demolished. Physical Plant will be relocated to the college’s parking facility, where designs for their new space in the garage have already been completed.
A construction contract for the Physical Plant parking garage space is ready to be awarded by the college, according to Ryan. Construction for that should be completed towards the end of the first quarter of 2017. Soon after, demolition of the old Mahan building will begin with the erection of the residence hall on that site to follow.
Joining the new residence hall and STEM building will be an open and inviting green space to be built on the site of the Riverdale Auto Body Shop, now owned by the college. The college also currently owns the green garage space located just behind it along Tibbet Avenue.
Why a New STEM Building?
The new STEM building will be fully connected to the existing structure of Leo Hall, tying-in to the current engineering building on its south side. During construction, the façade on the west side of Leo will also be removed and rebuilt to ensure a seamless look for the new, expanded facility.
However, the new combined space will not just be for engineering students. The new extension will exclusively house laboratories for The School of Science’s chemistry, biology and physics departments, in addition to The School of Engineering’s mechanical, chemical, civil and environmental engineering departments.
The School of Engineering’s department of electrical and computer engineering will not have laboratory space in the new STEM building.
“The new building is going to be dedicated more to laboratories from the standpoint of wet labs, dirty labs, construction labs and those types of things,” Tim Ward, dean of The School of Engineering, said.
“Whereas electrical labs are a lot cleaner and they can be built in different places for a lot less money than what this building is going to go up for.”
According to Ward, the new engineering labs will be of benefit to both students and faculty, in terms of both instruction and research. He is not looking to use the building to expand the size of the undergraduate program (1,147 as of this fall’s college census) and lose the small-class sizes and personal connections between students and the professors.
However, the new facilities may help grow the graduate side of the engineering school by offering more attractive and modern research space.
On a purely practical level, it makes sense for the schools of engineering and science to share space due to the significant number of school of science course requirements for underclassmen engineering students. However, both deans agree the new shared space will bring more than just logistical benefits.
“If we are going to have a strong engineering program and a strong science program, we need both of those here, then we are going to have to do something to try and improve our spaces,” Ward said.
Dean of the School of Science Constantine Theodosiou is excited at the prospect of collaboration between the two schools.
“This is an ideal situation where you can share facilities, you can share expertise, share instruments [for research],” he said. “It goes beyond the introductory labs.”
“Your degree does not prescribe and preclude what you can do and what you cannot do—not anymore. Today, everything is interdisciplinary. You cannot afford to be narrowly focused.”
While the new STEM building and residence hall will be a significant accomplishment for the college once complete, the new space will also provide flexibility to renovate existing facilities around campus.
First on the list are RLC, Leo and Hayden Hall. While specific post-construction plans and details are not yet finalized, it is likely that the ROTC program and the School of Liberal Arts Communications Department (both currently housed in Leo) would be moved into Hayden Hall.
As many know, there are still empty spaces in the basement of Leo Hall that arose with the construction of the Kelly Commons, namely the former site of the college bookstore and Leo Cafeteria.
It is possible that those spaces might be used as temporary classroom locations for those that will be affected by the work on the Leo façade and other related construction impacts and noise.
While the various construction projects will bring challenges and adjustments for the college community, the end goal is for a unified South Campus that combines the college’s science, engineering, technology and mathematics programs in a modern space.
As of press time, the college was not ready to release specific details regarding financing and costs of the various projects on South Campus.
“We conducted an extensive feasibility study using outside counsel which had a positive result and we are moving forward with our fundraising efforts,” Thomas Mauriello, vice president for college advancement said through e-mail to The Quadrangle.