Facility services respond to noise near popular campus spot

By Whitney Ziemak, Staff Writer

Armstrong State University’s Student Union Building (SUB), constructed in 2010, included a large mechanical room packing a boisterous cooling tower on the north side of the Memorial College Center (MCC), facing the Shearhouse Plaza, otherwise known for the patio tables outside of the Learning Commons. Shearhouse Plaza has actually existed in some shape or fashion for many years, though the mechanical room and tower were added to serve as a miniature “plant” for the MCC and SUB, controlling the cooling in both areas. A side effect of the cooling tower is the noise, in the sense that it sounds like a rushing waterfall.

Though most students seem to notice the racket, it seems to have had a minimum effect on those that use, and wish to use, the Shearhouse Plaza patio area. According to Kathryn Twining, director of facility services, “[My department] has had the noise from the cooling tower on its radar from some time now, but to date have not received direct complaints from students or staff.”

Senior special education major, Tim Sheahan, stated, “I’ve always wondered what that thing is,” in response to his opinion on the infamous noise. Students and faculty seem to use the area regardless of the blare.  Early childhood major, Jackie Brown, claims she loves to sit outside. “I just block [the sound] out— like white noise.”

A number of students prefer to sit outside and study or eat lunch after being in a building for classes throughout the day. But of the eighteen tables placed in the plaza, many were left open. Relevant curiosity poses questions of whether the tower is a reason why people don’t come out to sit. Will the noise be reduced when cooling is not needed throughout the winter months? “It probably will not change that much. Being where we are—in Savannah—our cooling system doesn’t actually go off, and there is a boiler system that comes in to provide some of the heating,” Twining said. Though the noise can be a disturbance, it does not seem to be a big enough concern for students to take any action. Students have a voice and the faculty and staff are willing to listen, though being unaware of concerns and importance of an issue like this really puts it out of their control.  

Twining said she has heard some conversations among faculty and students in response to the noisy tower, but that no formal complaints exist. “With the increased use of the Plaza for things such as outdoor events or even studying between classes, we will need to take a look at what can be done to limit the noise but not diminish the efficiency of the tower.”