March 4, 2004

Africana Enters New Era With Building Plan

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Plans to renovate and expand the Africana Studies and Research Center (ASRC) on North Campus’s Triphammer Road are exciting, rapidly progressing and long overdue, say a number of sources involved in the project.

Only a few steps away from final approval for renovations to begin this summer, the current ASRC building is in line for a complete overhaul of its exterior. It will also receive interior work that will convert its existing library into classrooms and offices and as well as totally renovate the facilities.

“This is an important moment for the Africana Center and it will help to strengthen the academic work, especially the research of faculty, and it’s going to give us more of a presence on campus,” said Robert L. Harris, Jr., vice provost for diversity and faculty development.

The two-stage $4 million project will then add 5,000 square feet to the 11,000 square foot former fraternity house. The addition to the building’s North side will house a new multi-purpose room and library.

“In the context of North Campus, Africana will become a magnet,” said Salah Hassan, currently director of the ASRC and a professor of the history of art and Africana studies.

The new facilities will “signal a place of learning” that will enrich the undergraduate and freshman experience as well as to allow the center to prepare to offer a Ph.D. program, Hassan said.

The Building and Properties Committee of the Board of Trustees recently approved schematics by Ralph Jackson of the architectural firm Shepley, Bullfinch, Richardson and Abbott of Boston. The board is Corne”o2s highest decision-making body.

“Members of the committee were generally very pleased with the designs and are excited to move forward,” said Funa Maduka ’04 a student-elected trustee and a member of the committee for two years. The village of Cayuga Heights, in which the ASRC lies, and the Cornell Black Alumni Association also gave the designs an enthusiastic reception.

Final approval from the University is expected by the end of the month, said Peter Karp, University architect.

“They’ve given it wonderful attention