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South Campus at Center of Master Plan

Leo Hall will be remodeled, with new labs and classrooms coming within the next five years. Michelle DePinho/The Quadrangle

Manhattan College has recently expanded on plans for upcoming developments and additions to  south campus.

The developments are set to greatly change the appearance and functionality of the Leo Engineering Building, RLC, the Mahan Physical Plant Complex as well as the immediate area in and around West 238th Street and West 240th Street.

Highlights include the addition of a new, 30,000-square-foot eSCI (formerly known as STEM) building and an apartment-style residence hall.

Renovations are also set for Leo’s engineering and science facilities, along with the creation of an outdoor recreation space reminiscent of the north campus Quad will also take place.

All come as part of the college’s “Master Plan,” a series of developments and upgrades set to take place over the next 10 years, collectively aimed at preserving the north campus, expanding the south campus and strengthening connections between the two.

Plans for the upcoming changes to south campus have been in the works and at the center of much discussion since they were initially presented at a school senate meeting earlier last year. They were reiterated in a mailing sent out to students, families and faculty this past December, along with architectural renderings of the facilities.

“The vision is to create a true south campus that will be in its own way as functional, accommodating and attractive as the north campus, with Kelly Commons as the strong link between north and south,” said President Brennan O’Donnell in last month’s mailing.

Ultimately, a major goal is to have the area resembling more of an actual college campus by the time the projects are complete. The additions of the two buildings stand as the biggest components of the plan.

The eSCI building will serve as a modernized continuation of Leo partially built into the pre-existing hall, with newly-outfitted laboratories and classrooms intended to foster better collaboration between students and to ensure that MC stays up-to-date on the latest, modern technology in the field. STEM facilities currently spread throughout several buildings and will be consolidated into one space with the end result of a better-connected learning environment.

Lab space will be dedicated primarily to The School of Engineering’s mechanical, chemical, civil and environmental departments, as well as the chemistry, biology and physics departments within The School of Science.

New York-based architecture firm Mitchell/Giurgola was selected for the building’s design in late 2015. As of last fall, detailed design and construction drawings were set to be completed by this October.

Accordingly, Leo Hall’s own resources will be updated for the same purpose of modernizing the facility. The west-facing façade of the hall, (currently considered the back entrance), will be remodeled as the new front entrance as part of the on-site development.

This, along with the eSCI building’s construction, will be the first major projects on south campus.

Vice President for Facilities Andrew Ryan said that the school will, “work diligently” to reduce effects on classes held in Leo while construction is underway.

“Subsequent renovations in other buildings will also impact operations but one of the strong points of the campus master plan is that the work can be conducted in phases,” said Ryan in an email statement.

The 300-bed residence hall is set to be constructed on the site of the Mahan Complex on West 238th Street, reflecting the college’s steadily growing population of resident students. The decision to go with apartment-style housing was partially decided upon by input from student focus groups conducted last year, in conjunction with Campus Apartments.

Architecture firm Cube 3, known for their work at academic institutions such as Emory and Shippensburg University, is handling the design of the hall. Originally scheduled to open in the fall of 2019, planned occupancy of the hall has since been moved to the fall of 2021.

“In the next 18 to 24 months, the college will work with local and city officials to resolve zoning issues on the block, which will provide for a project that in the long term will better serve the needs of the college and which will work better with our local community,” said Ryan.

During this time, the types of accommodations for the residence hall will be finalized. As of late, no word has been released on the demographic planned to occupy the building; it is not believed that the hall will be exclusive to STEM students or upperclassmen, though this is subject to change as the project moves closer towards completion.

Green space for recreation will come on the site of the former Riverdale Auto Body Shop, the vacant lot adjacent to Karl’s Auto Body. The college has owned the property as well as space behind it for some time.

Anticipation for the upcoming changes is already building among students.

Moira Delaney, a freshman and environmental science major, took two classes as well as lab in Leo during her first semester at MC, and is looking forward to the developments on the property after hearing about the upcoming plans.

“The resident hall seems convenient and I know that would probably benefit the STEM kids a lot. I’m excited to see how this could benefit our graduate program and what other opportunities could arise from this addition to the college,” said Delaney.

Construction is set to commence with preparations for excavation and groundbreaking on the new residence hall towards the end of the summer.

In the meantime, the next few months will be spent relocating the Physical Plant department from it’s current location in the Mahan building to its permanent new location on the ground floor level of the Broadway parking garage.

The move is projected to be finished early in the second quarter of 2017, after which the demolition of Mahan, as well as the college-owned buildings on the block west of Leo, will begin.

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