February 12, 2008

MVR Construction Continues Despite Past Hurdles

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The rumble of bulldozers is a familiar sound to most people on West Campus; however, it may come as a surprise to hear a ruckus coming from the College of Human Ecology’s Martha Van Rensselaer Hall.
Construction on the $77.7 million dollar addition began on Dec. 17 and is projected to take two and a half years to complete.
[img_assist|nid=27672|title=Gettin’ dirty|desc=Workers continue construction on Martha Van Rensellaer Hall yesterday. The building is expected to be completed in 2010.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]The new addition, which will be approximately 88,000 square feet in size and will sit upon a 290 capacity car garage, will be added to the current west wing of MVR. One new feature will be a 5,300 square foot common area.
Interim Dean of the College of Human Ecology Alan Mathios stated in an e-mail, “As part of the Human Ecology Building, an open Commons — similar to the atrium in Duffield Hall and Sage Hall — will be added that joins the community. This component is planned as community space and an area where many student activities and functions will occur for all units of the college and where we can also meet those from other parts of the campus community.”
The new building is intended to replace a north wing addition that proved to be structurally unsound after defects were found in its floor slabs; that space was evacuated in 2001.
According to the University, MVR opened in 1933 and has since been renovated twice, including the first north wing addition.
In addition to replacing lost space, the new building will provide a wide array of new amenities including “new contemporary teaching space such as an assembly studio for interior design, apparel design studios, computer aided design laboratories, wet laboratories for chemistry and biochemistry, a teaching laboratory to support the study of human biology, a new gallery to showcase both apparel and interior design and housing for the costume and textile collection,” stated Mathios.
Most students are in favor of the addition, but some stress the importance of maintaining the building’s aesthetic appeal.
“This building is really nice — I can’t see the construction being negative. However, a lot of the buildings are so different and the extensions don’t look like the original building, or there are buildings that just stick out like a sore thumb — like Uris Hall because it is right next to Statler and it just looks so different. I hope they maintain some consistency, it gives it a nicer feel,” said Sarah Eversman ’09.
Overall, students say the construction has little to no impact on those who regularly use the Human Ecology Building.
Samantha Negrin ’11 said, “It makes access to Martha’s café more difficult, but the new building will be very exciting to have and it will be exciting to have more space for the College of Human Ecology.”
According to Mathios, the current construction is just one part of the construction effort going on within Human Ecology.
“There are three major efforts in facilities in the College of Human Ecology — building of the Human Ecology building, an extensive and major renovation of the original Martha Van Rensselaer Hall structures and master planning for facilities to meet the complex needs of the Division of Nutritional Sciences,” Mathios said.