School of Education renewal project to ramp up this summer

A three-year series of projects to renovate and expand buildings to house all six departments of the School of Education will start taking shape this summer.

Artistic rendering of future view of Wilber Hall.School of Education personnel, classrooms and labs are on the move, part of a relocation plan which by fall 2014 will have helped pave the way for a modernized, larger home for the school.

Phase I is under way: Park Hall on SUNY Oswego’s east campus will empty, now through the end of the summer, for two years of renovations. A 13,700-square-foot addition will rise on the north and west sides of the adjacent Wilber Hall. Temporary technology labs are taking shape in the lower levels of Wilber and Service Building 20. Hewitt Union, a sturdy linchpin of surge space, prepares to receive two School of Education departments for temporary stays on the west campus.

Yet the curriculum and programs of the School of Education will go on, and excitement abounds for a reinvention and addition of spaces for the flagship discipline—teacher education—that prompted the college’s founding 150 years ago.

“Every program is going to remain intact through the construction phase, every department stays whole, all programs will continue to be delivered,” said Dan Tryon, assistant professor of technology and the shepherd for School of Education relocations. “Some of the surge space we’re building now will be improvements over the facilities we now have. And they will be even better when we come back to our final home.”

Local company

PAC & Associates, an Oswego general contracting firm, recently was awarded the Phase I construction bid for the School of Education, including an airy, 1.5-story addition to Wilber and a new field placement office.

“Thirteen general contractors bid it,” said Tom Simmonds, associate vice president for facilities. “It was a very good bid for the campus. The low bid of $5.8 million was about 7 percent under estimate for the project, which continues a trend.”

Tryon said all departments of the school—technology, curriculum and instruction, vocational teacher preparation, educational administration, counseling and psychological services and health promotion and wellness—subscribe to the mantra, “Curriculum should drive facilities, not facilities drive the curriculum.” So all have worked to prepare substantial upcoming changes to programs and offerings.

Sciences link

One of the driving forces for the modernization of the School of Education has been the new home rising next door to Wilber for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. The plans for education’s own complex—designed by Bergmann Associates of Rochester and architects SHW Group of Detroit—link Wilber Hall with the sciences addition, and Wilber even more strongly with Park Hall, with a new three-story connector whose first floor will offer a new main entrance for the school.

Tryon pointed out that pedestrians along the sciences-education connector will see a glassy, glittering new field placement office for the School of Education.

“That is sort of our storefront,” Tryon said. “That’s what we do: We prepare teachers, administrators, counselors and other professionals, and we put them out into the field. It’s going to become our dramatic, front-door service. That becomes our active hub of the future, as we see it.”

‘Showpiece’ lab

Judith Belt, interim chair of the technology department, said that on the north side of the sciences-education walkway, visitors will see the glass-sided, state-of-the-art manufacturing lab; another lab in the new addition will house materials and fabrication.

“For students coming into the school, it’s going to be very exciting. It will be a showpiece,” she said.

Susan Camp, associate professor of vocational teacher preparation and co-chair of the Campus Concept Committee, said SUNY Oswego and the SUNY Construction Fund, which ultimately will provide about $170 million for the sciences and education complexes and exterior renovation of historic Sheldon Hall, have worked well together to keep these projects moving forward in a tough economy, bringing some 350 much-needed construction jobs to the region.

GRAPHIC CAPTION: A 13,700-square-foot addition, foreground, to the SUNY Oswego School of Education’s Wilber Hall is shown from the northwest. The main part of Wilber—which will be renovated in a later phase of the School of Education project—is in the center background, fronted by a new walkway/collaborative connection with the rising sciences building (to the right, or west). Adjacent Park Hall (to the left, or east, background) will undergo two years’ worth of renovations starting this summer.

(Posted: Mar 17, 2011)

Tags: vitality, school of education, construction