Construction!

By Tom

You may or may not have heard the news, but Richmond is undergoing some really exciting construction right now. This is particularly noticeable if you come for a visit, since Brunet Memorial Hall, home to the Office of Admission, is nearly surrounded by construction! I ran outside with a camera today to get some snapshots of the progress.

On one side of our building, the new Carole Weinstein International Center is already well underway. This facility, when completed in a year (in time for the Fall 2010 semester, or the freshman or sophomore year for most student readers of this blog), will house our Office of International Education, Study Abroad offices, International Studies major, Department of Modern Literatures and Cultures, LAIS (Spanish) Department, and a new international cafe. Currently you can see the structure beginning to take shape right across the street from our office:

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The CWIC basement is underway, and structural girders are being put in place.

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The rising structure, with the Jepson Hall tower visible in the background.

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Artist’s concept of the completed International Center. It is built around a central courtyard and fountain, modeled on one of the oldest architectural patterns in human history.

On the other side of Brunet Memorial Hall, a very different type of structure is beginning to take shape. In Fall 2010, for the first time since 1929, the Spider football team will play its opening home game (and all subsequent home games) on campus. The new multi-purpose football stadium will seat 8700 and is an expansion of the current First Market stadium, already used by the soccer, lacrosse, and track teams.

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A view across the current track and field toward the preliminary work for the west grandstand. The best view of the stadium is from the roof of our building (shh! don’t tell my boss I went out there!)

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Beginning of the east grandstand, right behind our building. Unfortunately, the grandstand itself will block most of the view from Brunet Memorial – otherwise our roof might become prime seating!

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Artist’s rendering of the completed west grandstand and main entrance, from outside.

If you want to check in on the progress of either project, the University has installed live, user-controlled webcams that you can access through our construction website. The stadium webcam also gives you the opportunity to watch our varsity athletes training. I personally like the CWIC webcam, because behind the construction you can see my workplace (Brunet Hall) and behind that you can see the stadium construction – gives you a sense of just how islanded in construction our building is!

Over on the other side of campus, the new Westhampton Center expansion of the Westhampton Deanery is also well underway, also scheduled for Fall 2010 completion. And the new wing of the Robins School of Business, Queally Hall, will soon be underway too, with anticipated completion for the Spring 2011 semester.

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The Robins School of Business, with Queally Hall on the right. Construction will begin in May.

So what does all this construction mean for you? A couple of thoughts:

1. The construction is a reflection of just how well the University is doing financially. While our endowment, like most, has taken a hit in recent years, it has not been detrimental at all. We are one of very few colleges in the country that is actually increasing its endowment spending for the next fiscal year, and doing so safely and securely, to help maintain the quality of a Richmond education and experience. We are hiring new faculty, maintaining our commitment to financial aid, and continuing with campus construction, so the student experience at Richmond is only getting better. Building during this economic climate is actually advantageous in several ways: a lot of money is saved through lower material and labor costs, and the University is able to support the local economy in numerous sectors.

2. If you do come for a visit, please pardon our dust and noise! We’re holding most of our information sessions in another building because of the noise level here in Brunet. The good news is that, while my office will be in the noise zone for the next year, none of these projects is in a highly centralized location for our students. The main quads and greens, the central academic and residential parts of campus, aren’t obstructed in any way, and students shouldn’t see too much of an impact on their daily lives. So those of you coming in the fall don’t have to worry about construction dust and the buzz of jackhammers getting in your way.

3. Current high school juniors and seniors will benefit tremendously from top-notch facilities across our campus. These four newest construction projects follow numerous other recent projects and renovations. Within the last three years, we have opened a brand-new science center, brand-new dining hall, brand-new recreation/wellness center, a brand-new residence hall, and we’ve renovated two other residence halls. The complete renovation of our Commons, including the new game room (which is awesome), will be complete this summer. So from the simple perspective of facilities available, there has never been a better time to come to Richmond.

I’ll definitely keep you posted as construction progresses. It’s an exciting – if slightly noisy – time for us here in the Office of Admission!

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