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Catawba College Unveils Plans for New Academic Center on Campus

May 26, 2005

Category: Academics


In Catawba College’s past, it has been called “a library,” but in the future, after extensive renovations and a new three-story addition, it will be “the academic center” on campus.   Plans for such a facility were recently unveiled to college trustees during their annual retreat in Southern Pines.

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Since February, college administrators, including librarians, faculty and information technology specialists led by Assistant Dean of the College Dr. Philip Acree Cavalier, have worked in earnest with Salisbury architects Bill Burgin and Diane Gibbs of Ramsey Burgin Smith Architects Inc.   They have collectively developed comprehensive plans for renovating the 25,500 square foot, two-story Corriher-Linn-Black Library and constructing its new 40,000 square foot, three-story addition.   Burgin and Gibbs attended the trustees’ retreat and shared plans for the $10.2 million project via a power point presentation.

“We’ve actually studied seven potential sites on campus and even looked at converting the Cannon Student Center into a new facility,” Burgin said.   He explained, however, that all of those possibilities eventually returned as plans to renovate and expand the existing library.

“There were advantages to expanding an existing facility,” Burgin continued, noting that it is the historic position of the library on campus, that the space has an abundance of information technology infrastructure associated with it now, that the present and future bodes a growing link between information technology and library services, and that there was an opportunity to “visually take advantage of the view into Catawba’s 189-acre Ecological Preserve.”

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A new main entrance into the facility will create a north-south axis on campus, directing foot traffic from the Robertson College-Community Center into the academic center.   A curved, three-story wall of glass in the addition will overlook the preserve.   The completed project will include a reference desk, an information desk, banks of computers, group study spaces, leisure reading spaces, a computer classroom, offices for the library staff and computer services, a server room and a systems/network operations center, a loading dock, and plenty of room for growth of the circulating collection.   The existing mezzanine and a new mezzanine in the addition will overlook almost 15,000 square feet of information commons.

“We’re proposing to house all sources of information in a single center on campus,” Catawba College Vice President and Academic Dean Dr. Barbara Hetrick told trustees.   “This will allow students new opportunities to learn in ways that aren’t currently available to them,” noted Dean Hetrick.

“This new facility will be built around a concept of an information commons and information literacy will be provided to students beginning in the First-Year Seminars,” Hetrick continued.

Cavalier explained that the new academic center “will address the information needs of the college well into the future.”   The glass wall which will overlook the preserve, he noted, is a physical way in which to emphasize the importance of the environment to the Catawba College community, both in the impressive views the new space will offer into the preserve and in the building itself.

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Burgin said he believes the academic center as planned could easily obtain a silver or even a gold level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating which would assert the college’s commitment to sustainability and green design.   He also noted that the facility “had two more growth areas available to it in the future,” to the west and the north of the existing library.

At their annual meeting in February, trustees directed college officials to resume discussions with Burgin and proceed quickly with plans to renovate and add space to the library.   They also gave college officials authority to pursue a campaign to fund renovation and construction of the facility.