Front Range Community College’s Ongoing Construction

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The Front Page recently had the opportunity to talk with Front Range Community College’s Vice President, Therese Brown, about the construction that students and faculty have had to navigate through in the past few years. The construction is nearing completion, so here is a recap of what has been accomplished and what is still yet to be finished.

“[We] started planning in Fall of 2011 and we did a master space plan for the entire campus. Once we had all that information we basically mapped out the campus and had a bunch of different projects and we had to prioritize them and figure out what we could afford.” The planning committee highlighted a few priorities that they felt were important to address during the construction and remodel.

“At the end of the day students are always the number one priority so it was about student space and student experience. Number two; that groups of employees were scattered all over the campus because as departments grew there wasn’t a plan for the growth. It’s really important for departments of people who work together to be together, so we wanted to accomplish that as a goal (having all the departments classrooms and offices grouped together).  The third thing we wanted to do was to bring more natural light into the building in any way, shape or form that we could. [Because] this building was built during the energy crises, and when they built it they built it with solar technology in mind, minimizing sun exposure and outdoor window space, forgetting about the human quality that daylight and seeing outside are important.”

“We also identified that there wasn’t enough hang out space for students and study space for students, so one of our priorities was to ensure that outside of the classroom we were creating an environment where students would actually want to hang around and stay on campus because research shows that the more students are engaged in their educational experience and hang around on a campus and get engaged with other students they are more successful. On top of that, we have a building that was built and opened in ’75, ’77, somewhere in there, so the infrastructure of the building was literally 40 years old and falling apart.”

“The first project that we did was the Student Service Center (where the Welcome Desk is). We went for one-stop service (formerly these services, like Financial Aid and Advising, were scattered over two different floors making for an inefficient system).”

“We also undertook the complete replacement of all the air-handling units throughout the building. We systematically replaced all the air-handlers on the roof-which are the things on the top of the building that move the air- as well as the required duct-work. We literally just turned on the last handling unit two-weeks ago and are in the final process of ‘test and balancing’  which gets the air-handler tweaked with our chiller and boiler. We installed a computer controlled building automation system for sensors and dampers and can chill the building down at night when the building is unoccupied and heat it up an hour before people arrive. We also replaced all the light fixtures in the building with more energy-efficient fixtures. (With these and other energy efficiency improvements) so overall energy wise we should be coming out a lot better- that was a huge project and is now done.

“All of the hallways (west end is finished), all of the lounges are being redone to make them feel more comfortable, more modern. When we are done with building you’ll see all sorts of nooks and crannies with different feels so people have different choices.”

“The Student Center and Gym also received a facelift. All the hallways were redone, the rotunda, the Rocky Mountain Room, and the student club space (Student Organization Center) was also created.”

“The Coffee Cart was the number one thing students wanted to make sure we had. If we were going to have a student bond, and the students were going to pay for the renovation then we needed to have the Coffee Den.”

“During the planning process the issue of LGBTQ students feeling safe in bathrooms (arose), so we created the all gender bathrooms (one outside gym, one near student center) and an all gender locker room.”

There was also the addition of the art building, on the east side of the campus, as well as the new greenhouse. “Once we moved those out (the art classrooms) that left that end of the building, the east end, which needed to be remodeled and turned into usable space. [We will] take all of the art space and remodel it into general purpose classrooms. We created an office space for the CTAL department so there is office space for the teachers in the department so they are right there with the full-time faculty so that we can foster good engagement with the instructors and full-time faculty.” This project should be completed by the time students return for the Spring semester.

“We then go back to the West end of the building, where all the faculty offices are for Social Behavioral Sciences and English Communications Department. They’re not all together so we are carving out more office space down at that end of the building. That work will start at Spring Break and should be done by the end of June. The hallways should be done by end of January. The visual and performing arts gallery will also be redone. The hope is that the majority of the work will be completed by June.”

The school also hopes to open up a new area of study in the near future. “The remaining space on the B-level will ultimately become a Surgical Technician Program (the space would specifically be used for a lab. This project does hinge on getting approval to operate the program, as well as the funds to make it a reality).”

Everyone who steps foot in the building, from the school’s President to its freshmen, have been impacted by the construction. It has been a long process with a lot of hard-work and dedication by faculty and students alike. The end is in sight and we thank you for your patience!

Written by Alex Liethen

Photo from FRCC’s Blog

Originally published in the print edition on December 9, 2015

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