September 30, 2003

Beck Center to Open For 2004 School Year

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Scheduled to open for the 2004 school year, the Robert A. and Jan M. Beck Center will be a 35,000 square foot addition to the east side of Statler Hall. The center, named for Robert Beck, former dean of the School of Hotel Administration, and his wife, Jan, is currently under construction and will include a three-story teaching facility to enhance classroom and computer laboratory education in the hotel school.

The Beck Center is part of a $16.2 million expansion project to “help make the proper pedagogy feasible,” said Marge Ferguson, associate dean, business administration, School of Hotel Administration. After increasing the available slots in the school by an additional one hundred students in the 1990s, the need for more offices and interview rooms has grown. Compounding the need, the current building has some shortcomings.

For example, Fergusen said, “the current case study rooms are long and rectangular, which make it hard to see the professor.”

The new building will have two tiered case study rooms, one with distance learning capabilities.

In addition, in the current computer lab setup, “there are not always enough computers for everyone to have one facing front, ” said Tess Staadecker ’07.

These problems were addressed in the design of the new center.

“We are completely redoing the computer facilities, first, by constructing a computer lab in the new building, then, in May 2004, the school is handing over the existing Binenkord Computer Center for remodeling.” said Project Superintendent Randy Heckman.

“The Beck Center will feature a lobby atrium with a third floor balcony overlooking the entry courtyard to add to its aesthetic appeal,” Heckman said. On the first floor, it will have a lecture hall with an occupancy of 140 and a hospitality suite that will serve as “a large conference room with the flexibility of a reception area to welcome visitors,” according to Ferguson. The second floor will have classrooms, group study rooms and interview rooms. The third floor will have the new and improved case study rooms, in addition to more interview rooms and classrooms. It will be connected to the third floor of Statler Hall via a wheelchair-accessible ramp.

Altogether, the Beck Center will add two group study rooms, two classrooms, eight interview rooms, two case study rooms and a lecture hall, in addition to an expanded computer center to the hotel school. The renovations also include the already refurbished Statler Auditorium, which took place from May 4 to Aug. 22, 2003, for an Aug. 23 deadline for Orientation. “They have done a very good job of meeting the needs of keeping it open,” Ferguson remarked.

Keeping Statler Hall open with ongoing construction has been no easy task. “There were sparks flying in my Managerial Communication class,” Staadecker said. “Last year during the demolition, the faculty was very patient, but with dust flying and jackhammers drilling, it was, well, noisy,” Ferguson said. The construction has been inconvenient in terms of parking and traffic, as well.

“We plan to work through the summer,” Heckman said of the summer of 2004, and it looks as though the project long underway will come to a close on time for the fall of 2004 deadline. Funding, which has come entirely through donations, is nearly complete, with $15 million raised and the other $1.2 million expected by December. Now, the construction is in the final stage of what has been a long process — interest in expansion was first expressed in 1995 and ground was broken in 2000.

“I think everyone is excited just to see it finished,” said Rajesh Shah ’04.

Archived article by Erica Fink