Students hear it during class. Sandbags and fences loom like trolls in the middle of their paths, and its inconveniences, no matter how brief they sometimes are, seem to pop up unexpectedly when students are already running late.
It’s construction, and according to the university’s website, it’s going to make Stony Brook University more efficient, more effective and more economic.
The construction is part of an initiative to update and streamline the university called “Project 50 Forward” and will to include new residence halls, academic buildings, dining halls, parking areas and clinical buildings, as well as renovations to re-purpose and repair existing facilities.
The project’s website says that Project 50 Forward “will help propel Stony Brook University into the top 20 public research universities, add value to a Stony Brook degree, and set us on a trajectory for the next 50 years,” all points the university hopes will attract more students—and consequently more tuition—to help bridge the school’s nearly $30 million gap from state budget cuts.
Anticipated progress for the construction will be laid out in a 10-year plan lasting from 2013 until 2023 called the Facilities Master Plan, or FMP, which is currently in progress. The FMP is a collaborative effort between the urban design firm Cooper, Robertson and Partners and architect Scott Blackwell Page.
Both collaborating architects will be assisted by a consulting team and an advisory committee of representatives from the State University Construction Fund, University department leadership and subcommittees representing many areas within the University community.
Because the project’s designers are looking to build a campus that will be large enough to sustain a growing population, they have calculated into FMP what they consider a “target growth” for the university.
By 2023, according to the draft FMP—which is available online—SBU expects to see 3,000 more students, which will necessitate 3,300 more beds. It will also boast 1.5 million gross square feet of new academic space, 580,000 gross square feet of renovated academic space and 1.20 million gross square feet of residential space.
But with the financial crisis still apparent across the country, some may wonder where the university can find the money to fund such a large undertaking and why it would spend money on a private consulting firm’s assistance.
The project’s website claims that “the funds the University is using to pay for the consulting services come from a targeted gift from the Stony Brook Foundation” and that no state funds are going to be used in the initiative.
The university’s consistent message is that once these research and academic facilities are built, Stony Brook will be a university of a different caliber and will attract not only more scientists and professors, but students as well.
So while students may find the construction around campus inconvenient now, and while there is no end in sight for at least ten years, it may help to remember that it’s all supposed to make students’ degrees a little more impressive and their time a little more enjoyable.