March 9, 2001

Human Ecology Addition on Schedule

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Martha Van Rensselaer (MVR), the University’s largest building, is in the process of expanding to an even greater size.

A new addition to the College of Human Ecology’s complex is scheduled to open for faculty and student use at the beginning of the Fall 2002 semester.

The new addition will contain two lecture halls, a floor of classrooms, a distance-learning conference room and a metabolic research lab.

The lecture halls, which will hold about 140 people each, will be wired for electronic teaching and distance learning, according to Associate Dean Kay Obendorf.

“One [lecture hall] will be wired for broadcast. It will be able to broadcast nationally,” she said.

The classrooms will come equipped with Internet connections for student use. The conference room will allow faculty and classes to communicate audio-visually to further cooperative extension, which allows faculty and students to interact with people outside the University.

“Cooperative extension is part of the University’s land grant mission. It is our effort to link the University to people of the state of New York,” Obendorf explained.

The metabolic research lab will “provide state of the art equipment and facilities,” said Prof. Jere Haas, nutritional science.

The lab will allow nutritional science faculty and other researchers to carefully study metabolic processes, among other human biological functions.

“We are certainly excited. It will enhance our capacity to do research in [the area of nutritional science],” Haas added.

The lab will contain examining, exercise and body composition rooms along with a food analysis lab, kitchen, dining room and ward for subjects who stay overnight.

“I say that it is a doctor’s office, an exercise gym, a cafeteria and an analytical lab all in one facility,” Obendorf said.

College officials are hopeful that the addition will make MVR a campus focal point.

“We expect that the MVR walkway will be a main artery as students come from North Campus. It will become a focal point of undergraduate education. The lab will be a focal point for research related to humans and human biology,” Obendorf said.

Although college officials are optimistic about the addition, the construction process has not escaped its share of problems.

“The unusually wet spring slowed the excavation and shoring process which cost the contractor some critical time,” said project coordinator Brian Cutler. “In addition, because of the amount of construction work in this area, the contractor had a hard time finding qualified craftspersons.”

He also noted that the site’s location posed logistical difficulties for transporting materials.

The State University of New York Construction Fund has financed most of the MVR construction, but the College of Human Ecology has had to supplement some of its own funds.

According to Obendorf, the State paid for the addition’s base structure, contract and architect. However, the College must pay for furnishings.

“For example, the lecture hall will be delivered with no seats, so the College must do those things,” Obendorf said.

Along with plans for the new wing, MVR recently opened a new courtyard and entrance that will be dedicated during the 2001 graduation weekend.

“We think [the new courtyard and entrance] will add to the functioning of the facility and will be particularly nice for undergraduates,” Obendorf added.

Archived article by Stephanie Hankin