The Old Chemistry building sits abandoned this semester, the furniture removed from its classrooms and pieces of trash littering the hallways and offices. It awaits a massive renovation scheduled to begin next month that will transform it into a brand new state-of-the-art classroom building for use by the whole university—not just the chemistry department.
The renovation will include an additional three new lecture halls, each capable of holding roughly 250 students. The extension of the current building that presently houses one lecture hall will be completely demolished. Classrooms and workspaces of various sizes will comprise the rest of the building, which will be completely refurbished. The new building will include a 193-seat active learning classroom and a 68-seat testing center, complete with a computer for every student taking tests. It is expected to be completed in about two years.
Anthony Lifrieri, a senior, said that he likes the idea in theory because overcrowding in classrooms has become a problem. However, Lefrieri only thinks it is practical if “everyone’s tuition doesn’t have to go up.”
The rehabilitated learning hub will also feature a new electrical service, heating, air conditioning and plumbing. New brick and siding will cover the exterior. According to Colleen Wallahora, a former resident of the building, these changes were sorely needed.
“The offices were in horrible condition,” said Wallahora, assistant to the chair of the women’s and gender studies department, which has moved from the Old Chemistry building to the library due to the coming construction. “We had no heat, no air conditioning, horrible air. It was just an old building.”
Wallahora is one of the many Stony Brook employees displaced by the imminent restoration project. The chemistry department moved all of its classes and offices to the New Chemistry building, following the completion of renovation there last year. Joseph Lauher, a member of the department involved with space planning, said the move was not too problematic and well worth any inconvenience.
“In general, we’re all really happy to be getting new classrooms,” Lauher said. “We’re disappointed that they’re not making more lecture halls. Javits [Center] is really overcrowded.”
For Wallahora and the women’s and gender studies department, the move from the Old Chemistry building to the library was not quite as smooth. The move, which took place at the beginning of the Fall 2010 semester, lasted a few days and made working during that time difficult.
“We had to shut down for two days,” Wallahora said. “My office was moved first so we could have computers and phones. Everyone else moved afterward.”
The effects lasted even longer. Wallahora said that people initially had trouble finding the new offices, despite the fact that the department gave notification of its new location.
“Even though we sent out messages through Campus Life, people don’t pay too much attention to the area over here,” Wallahora said.
Despite any aggravation that might have come with the moving process, the new building promises to be a major upgrade for both students and faculty. The building provides much-needed new spaces for learning, as well as up-to-date technologies and facilities that make teaching easier for professors. The tentative 2013 completion date means that many current students here today won’t be able to witness its opening.
“I’m out of here, so it really doesn’t matter to me,” Lifrieri said. “I’m never gonna see this thing.”