School of Education prepares for renewal of building complex

architectural viewA big part of the development of the east end of SUNY Oswego’s campus starting next year will be renovation and expansion of the School of Education facilities.

In the next capital plan for SUNY, $22 million has been allocated in critical maintenance funds for Park and Wilber halls, said Tom Simmonds, associate vice president for facilities.

Now connected by hallway bridges, the two buildings, totaling about 165,000 square feet, house five of the school’s six departments, with the counseling and psychological services department located across campus in Mahar Hall.

At the end of the renovation in a few years, said Dean of Education Linda Rae Markert, the school hopes to have all six departments in the new complex, and to have Park and Wilber connected to each other by a three-story addition and to the new science building via new construction to the west.

“This is an exciting time for facility renewal,” Markert said. “A major concern right now is how are the SoE and sciences projects all going to flow together? We want to make the best decisions about getting the most robust, authentic learning environment for students regardless of their major.”

The expansion and renovation of Piez Hall that will bring the six science departments under one roof is scheduled to proceed at the same time as the renovations to Park and Wilber—and to connect to those buildings.

Planners for the two projects have been working together to find where they can collaborate. “The only way to get well-outfitted, excellent teaching space is to be collaborative,” Markert said.

Eric Olson from the School of Education has been meeting with the science planning committee, and Casey Raymond, chair of that committee, has begun meeting with education’s facilities steering committee.

Markert said she sees some obvious interfaces between her school’s programs and the sciences. For instance, she said, “We want to be the best in SUNY with regard to preparing math and science teachers. Can we work collaboratively and team teach some courses (and can) that be a new way of thinking about preparing teachers?”

Another is a need for electronics, circuitry, robotics and energy systems laboratories that could be shared by the technology department in the School of Education and engineering and applied physics programs next door in Piez, she suggested.

“Those are some examples of some specialized lab spaces that we could build and co-use,” Markert said. “The technology lab facilities, I think, have real potential for multiuse.”

She noted that the upcoming renewal presents an opportunity of a lifetime. “We’ve got to get it right. You’ve got to get the best minds together to create spaces that are going to be forward thinking,” she said.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Education school’s home—A program study by Ashley McGraw Architects envisions an entrance to the SUNY Oswego School of Education to be built between Park and Wilber halls. An architectural firm is expected to be hired soon to complete design of the school’s facilities, with construction slated to begin a year from now.

(Posted: Apr 01, 2009)

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