New building will host liberal arts classrooms when Dewey, Webb, Ainsworth renovations start

 Using pre-fab panels, a crane began lifting a new building into place after a foundation was laid in September. It will house classrooms temporarily and then staff and equipment for facility operations. Photo by Evan Bowley.

Using pre-fab panels, a crane began lifting a new building into place after a foundation was laid in September. It will house classrooms temporarily and then staff and equipment for facility operations. Photo by Evan Bowley.

The Norwich University campus will be adding a new academic building in the spring semester. A temporary liberal arts building is being constructed on a site located next to the current facilities and operations garage to allow the renovations of Webb Hall, Dewey Hall, and Ainsworth Hall being undertaken, according to the university’s director of construction services, Brad McKay.

“The older buildings were not really serving our purpose so we decided to go ahead and renovate Dewey, Webb, and Ainsworth,” said McKay. “We were in need of a building to house some of our liberal arts students, so we figured a temporary building was the way to go.”
The older academic buildings on the Norwich campus are severely outdated and in desperate need of updating. The university hopes to have its renovations of those three buildings completed by the bicentennial in 2019.

The university has been studying how to accomplish the upgrades while continuing to provide space for the academic courses in those buildings.
“The original idea was to put a temporary academic building on Disney Field and use that until the renovations were completed,” said McKay. “Then we decided, why not build a building down here (next to the facility operations garage) and use that for academics until Dewey, Webb, and Ainsworth are completed. After their completion, we plan to use this temporary building for facility operations and campus security.”  

The temporary building will serve its purpose for Norwich after the multi-million dollar scheduled renovations are complete. Campus security and facility operations will use it for materials storage, offices, and as a garage.

“My crew will be able to house some of our equipment and I will have an office in the new building,” says Tom Baker, grounds supervisor. “I know that there will be a construction lab in there for the time being, but I will not have access to it for three years.”
The Norwich University grounds crew will also have a space in the new building. Although they will not be able to use it for the foreseeable future, it will be a valuable resource for them and increase their available storage and work area.

The Norwich faculty has a positive outlook on the prospects of a new work space, but students are not as optimistic about all the upheaval that will occur when classes are moved to the new pre-fab building.

“It will definitely be much more convenient since it will be located only steps from my dorm room,” said Billy Whaley, 22, a senior history major from Northfield, Vt. “My only concern is the amount of space we will have in there and whether or not it will directly affect me this spring.”
With only 12 classrooms located inside, it may be an uphill battle for the university to find adequate classroom space for such a large number of students.

“I know that it is a necessity to renovate the current liberal arts classrooms,” said Spencer Duhamel, 20, an English major from Manchester, N.H. But he agreed with Whaley. “I just don’t see how we will be able to hold such a large number of classes in such a small building,” Duhamel said.
A plan for how classes will be held in the new building has not yet been determined. It is still undecided what classes will definitely be held there and what classes will be moved to another location.

While the building is not glamorous, a major benefit for Norwich is how inexpensive the new building will be. “The building cost $2.5 million dollars,” said McKay. “We still need to outfit the interior and finish up a few minor details, but the building is expected to finish within our budget.”

The new building adjacent to the facility operations building is a pre-fabricated, metal frame unit that the school was extremely excited about purchasing.
“Pre-constructed buildings, such as the one we bought, are very easy for our guys to assemble and have done in a timely fashion,” said McKay. “It’s just as matter of connecting a few bolts, outfitting the interior, and supplying power to the unit. Once that is completed, we should be ready to move classes over here.”

A name for the new building has not yet been established. A large crane has been hoisting parts into place for several weeks and the two-story exterior has been assembled.
With the cost of the renovations on Dewey, Webb, and Ainsworth Hall expected to exceed $100 million, being able to add another space on campus at such a low price is a relief.

“Once Ainsworth, Dewey, and Webb are completed and security and facility operations is able to move in, there will be massive amounts of workspace,” said McKay. “The lower level will be mostly storage and a small workshop. There will be an elevator in the building which will have the capacity to be used as a freight elevator, if needed.”
Norwich has been on a multi-year renovation plan for its academic buildings. Kreitzberg Library was completely renovated in the 2015-2016 school year. Now that Dewey, Webb, and Ainsworth Hall are finally being attended to, it leaves Norwich in a strong spot for the bicentennial.

“It’s awesome that we are finally getting our academic buildings updated,” said Whaley. “I do think that the school needs to keep trying to improve itself after they are completed. Plumley (the school’s gym) is outdated, as well as Hollis House and Jackman Hall.”

No plans for renovations to Plumley, Hollis, or Jackman Hall have been announced at this time. However, students agree across campus that these buildings need to be attended to as well.
A firm date has been set for January 2017 to have the building open.

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