Changes are coming to Binghamton University’s campus.
Physical Facilities has several plans in the works to update, modernize and generally maintain academic buildings at the University, including a $2.5 million renovation of the E.W. Heier Teaching and Research Greenhouses by Science III in the next two years. According to Karen Fennie, communications specialist for Physical Facilities, the goal of the project is to update the building in efforts to keep it running.
“This is a critical maintenance project which generally involves updating various building elements so that the building can continue to function,” Fennie said. “Design and construction for this project has been set at $2.5 million.”
Lecture Hall will also see renovations in three of its smaller classrooms, with a budget of $150,000 to remodel the rooms. The improvements will include fresh paint and technological updates.
“There will be some modest improvements to three of the smaller lecture halls including painting, new lighting, new furniture, new [audiovisual] equipment,” Fennie said. “The project is currently out to bid.”
Heather Giza, a junior double-majoring in biochemistry and art, said the renovations in Lecture Hall are long overdue.
“I work as a tour guide and I know bringing parents through Student Wing, they’re like ‘Oh wow, these classrooms are nice,’ then we get to Lecture Hall and it’s like concrete,” Giza said. “Also the fact that there’s like zero outlets there when most kids have laptops nowadays to take notes.”
Corey Orlik, a junior majoring in physics, shared Giza’s feelings and said the building needed to see improvements.
“It’s kind of an outdated building, if you’ve seen the smaller lecture halls especially,” Orlik said. “They seem rather out-of-date and out-of-touch.”
According to Fennie, the funding for these renovations comes from SUNY’s Construction Fund, a sum of money given to state universities that is used for construction purposes. Project proposals must include the name, location and estimated cost to be taken into consideration for a bid.
Roughly 50 percent of the buildings on BU’s campus are over 40 years old, and the University requested roughly $190 million from the capital plan for campus construction this year, according to SUNY’s 2017-18 Master Capital Plan Report.
Capital Plan funds were recently used to replace the cooling system in Science I. According to Physical Facilities, this project was budgeted at $1.2 million. An additional portion of Science I, which houses Chenango Room and Einstein Bros. Bagels, will be renovated later this year to make way for a new Panera Bread coming to campus next fall.
While Giza expressed her support for Lecture Hall renovations, she said she thinks money for other projects might be better directed toward something else.
“As far as [Panera Bread] coming in, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but I feel like some of this money would be better suited going toward the sidewalks,” Giza said. “I feel like some construction money should be put in rerouting these sidewalks.”
According to Fennie, construction will likely take place over the summer, when these spaces are not being used as frequently. As consultants have yet to be hired for the greenhouse renovations and the Lecture Hall renovations are out to bid, construction is still at least a year away.
Gabriel Perez, a junior majoring in economics, said he thinks renovations are overall beneficial to campus and the student body.
“I think when given the chance, why not just renovate something and make the students happier?” Perez said. “As years go by, you definitely have to modernize and just make it more aesthetically pleasing I guess. It attracts more students and it ultimately benefits the University.”