Piez renovation still on track for fall 2010 ground breaking


Officials are finally preparing to break ground this fall on the long awaited renovations to Piez and Park Hall, another major step toward revitalizing some of Oswego State’s aged buildings on campus.

The planned Piez Hall renovations are a Part of the overall revitalized science facilities plan, the project is expected to create more opportunities for both students and faculty.

"The entire project will essentially fully renovate Piez Hall and add new construction around it to transform the 45-year-old building into a state-of-the-art science facility that will house the college’s existing biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences, physics, and math departments, plus new programs in engineering," Thomas Simmonds, director of facilities design and construction, said.

The project is also expected to include significant upgrades to the Rice Creek Biological Field Station.

The renovation is currently still in the design development phase, with plans to bid out the initial phases of the work to start construction in mid to late 2010, Simmonds said.

"There are major additions that address the needs of an interactive sciences complex and offer learning and social opportunities with the concepts of a commons, and gathering places along the internal/external street," Simmonds said.

Still in limbo is how the chemistry department will prepare for the big move in the coming weeks to make the process move along more smoothly all the while keep class disruptions to a minimum.

"We will be talking with the science departments about how we will complete the sciences project," Casey Raymond, chemistry faculty and chair of the science planning committee said. "This may involve moving around some faculty and laboratories during the project."

While the renovations impact is expected to be widely felt, officials are currently reviewing an investigation in how to curb the amount of inconveniences the project will have on classes and other academic work.

"In the long term, it will create a greater interest in the understanding of science on the campus," Raymond said. "It will also provide modern teaching and research laboratories for students and faculty.

The project will keep all of the sciences under one roof, which will allow more interdisciplinary collaborations to develop. Among the new facilities in the complex will be new research spaces for the Environmental Research Center, a centralized instrumentation facility, a greenhouse, and a planetarium.

Completion of the sciences project will create modern teaching and research laboratories for the students and faculty.

"We are currently targeting a USGBC LEED (U.S Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design) gold rating, which will greatly progress the campus’s commitment to sustainability," Raymond said. "We are also currently working with CannonDesign to explore the possibilities of implementing renewable and sustainable systems in the building."

Among the amenities the building may include: wind turbines, solar panels, water conservation measures, and efficient ventilation.

"Additionally, it will create a physical connection between the sciences and the School of Education and help extend the Campus Spine between Hewitt Quad and Sheldon Quad," Raymond said. "The complex will also have a large three-story atrium, housing café."

The Park Hall aspect of the renovation is currently in preparation and planning, but there has not been nearly as much progress as the Piez renovation.

"It is always very exciting to see changes being made and I feel that there will be a greater feeling of cohesiveness and collegiality," Assistant Professor and Chair of Vocational Teacher Preparation Margaret Martin said. "All departments within the School of Education are in the "same business" and this just brings it closer to home, we all work as a team…and the team needs the same general headquarters."

The Sciences Project direction is also planning to demolish the current Snygg Hall at the later phases of the new sciences complex phasing.

"This decision was something that considered a wide range of factors," Simmonds said. "Basically, although Snygg was the last academic building constructed on campus, it has numerous major critical maintenance problems that make it not a cost effective structure to renovate nor a programmatic fit for the needs of current and future science buildings."

Piez Hall has better opportunities for rehabilitation and it is a better candidate to build new wings for the wet and specialized labs around.

"We are now in the design stages of planning the new Science Complex that will keep the history of Snygg and Piez Halls alive and enhanced," Simmonds said.

"We will also be able to temporarily consolidate and surge current science programs in Snygg and other areas while the renovations and new construction take place to offset major costs associated with much longer phasing scenarios and relocations," Simmonds said.

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