By: Joseph Oliveri
DANBURY- Berkshire Hall, Higgins Hall, and the second and third floors of White Hall will all undergo several transformative measures in May. Construction inside Higgins Annex began when the section was closed in March. Berkshire Hall is projected to be Midtown’s new Student Center.
Luigi Marcone, Chief Facilities Officer and Associate Vice President for Campus Planning explained that the current renovation projects are the fruition of a 10-year Facilities Master Plan at a Facilities Forum on Friday, April 6th.
WCSU had been given $34 million in General Obligations bonds in 2008 for the 10-year plan. $27 million in Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) will go toward the Berkshire project.
“The Quad will be completely redeveloped,” Marcone explained, and added that the frontal window exterior of the new Berkshire will be “a complete clear-span view.”
As a result of what Marcone called a “full gut-rehab,” Higgins Hall will no longer be separated from its Annex. The Math, Communication, and Foreign Language Departments will relocate there. The construction will also redo Higgins’ roof, plumbing, and mechanicals.
He added that Campus Planning has taken the lack of group-work space the Higgins buildings have into consideration, and that the newly connected buildings will reflect that.
“I think it’s going to become a very large assembly for students,” Marcone said of the new Higgins Hall. “We’re going to start doing that in most of our academic buildings.” He added that the new space would be ideal for “synergy between computer science and math.”
White Hall, which Marcone called “the academic workhorse” of Midtown Campus, will house the Education Department, which currently resides at Westside Campus. During the 18-month construction period, the first floor of White Hall will serve as swing space for ex-Berkshire faculty.
“The University recognizes that some legacy buildings, by the nature of their design, present limitations and in some cases barriers to some mobility impaired students,” Marcone said. “All of our major renovations create fully accessible buildings.”
While academics are at the forefront of the renovation, Marcone says Campus Planning has not forgotten about Western’s athletes. They can expect the department relocations to coincide with new additions to the Health Promotion and Exercise Sciences department.
“We’re looking at those kinds of opportunities for them,” he said. “We’re really hoping to support [HPX] with some really aggressive projects.”
“It’s better for us to try and improve our campus life the best we can,” Marcone said.