New interdisciplinary building to replace temporary structures by 2018

Blakeley Bartee

Construction for a new interdisciplinary academic building will begin next winter between the Carroll and IT Buildings in an attempt to get rid of temporary buildings at last.

Although it is being constructed in a different location, the new building is expected to hold some of the classes currently taking place at the Forest Drive and human ecology buildings, according to Sandra Wilkinson, the project superintendent.

“[The buildings] were temporary and really weren’t intended to be permanent facilities in the first place, but we’ve ended up making them permanent facilities,” David Faircloth, director of facilities, said. “They are well beyond their useful life, and they’re not adequate space to house the growth of those programs.”

This new three story building will have a lobby, two large lecture halls, five large classrooms, two medium classrooms and ten small classrooms, according to Wilkinson. The current size estimation is 109,000 gross square feet.

The new facility will be built where the ROTC building and fashion merchandising, apparel design and interior design buildings currently stand, according to Faircloth and Wilkinson. Before construction can begin, those buildings will be torn down.

The Forest Drive Building, which houses mainly foreign language and history classes, has stood for over twenty years. The classes held in the building will slowly disperse when the construction of the interdisciplinary academic building is complete.

“Ultimately, [the Forest Drive Building] will go away, but it will not go away immediately,” Faircloth said.

Eric Kartchner, chair of the department of foreign languages and associate professor of Spanish, is uncertain that all of the classes from the Forest Drive Building will be moved to the new building.

“I’ve been at all of the meetings [about the new building], so I know what the intentions are. And I’ve also worked in construction for a long time, and I’ve also worked in the university administration for a long time, so I know that what is said and what is done doesn’t always match up,” Kartchner said. “Whatever happens, it will be beautiful, and it will be useful, and we’ll love it. It’s just there’s no guarantee who will go into that building. Statements can be made, but things can change.”

While students in the future can enjoy the new building, some current interior design students dread their new classroom locations during the transition.

“I really wish that the interior designers right now would get to see it, instead of being in the old health building,” Alex Ennis, junior interior design major, said.

Students hope the new building will help expand the interior design department’s resources.

“I think it’s definitely going to benefit other students in the future, just because we’re going to have more resources for them. Because, honestly, if you think about the classrooms we have now, they’re not really adequate for all the stuff we need to do,” Jacob Lee, junior interior design major, said. “We don’t have all the resources we need. We have to go outside of school to buy all of our stuff. Hopefully, with this new building, we’ll get more stuff.”

While the plain interior design building offers little space and few details, Kartchner praised the Forest Drive Building for its functionality and beauty.

“[The Forest Drive Building] is a very nice building. It’s a functional building that provides all the services that we need, and they’ve made it look very attractive over the years. It has a nice appeal on the outside. So, I have no complaints about this particular building,” Kartchner said.

While Kartchner emphasized his satisfaction with the Forest Drive Building, he trusts the architects and designers to create an attractive and beneficial building.

“I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful. We have very talented architects, very talented designers. And so, whatever happens, it will be beautiful, it will be good for our university. It’s nice in an era of economic downturn to be given a building,” Kartchner said. “We were lucky to get this building. And so, I’ll take whatever we can get.”

Photo courtesy of Tahir Daudier.