Mike Bonanni, Staff Writer
The new school year is in full motion and so is the reconstruction of Fitzelle, which initially started back in June on the Monday after graduation. For those who don’t know, Fitzelle was the education building that housed the Mathematics, Psychology, Philosophy and Africana-Latino studies departments. These departments have been relocated until construction finishes in the summer of 2014, so Juniors and Seniors will not be able to use the new and improved Fitzelle. After talking with Thomas Rathbone, the vice president for facilities and safety, and going over the basic floor plans with Scott Barton, the Facilities Program Coordinator,the wait will be worth it for those who will be able to use the new building.
Essentially, Fitzelle is undergoing a combination of reconstruction and renovation. The layout of the hallways will be completely different, they will loop around there are no more dead ends. This includes an atrium area with a stair way up to the third floor. Classrooms have been gutted and will be replaced. There will now be small lecture halls on the ground floor, refered to as “lecturettes”. They will also be elevated with at least 50 seats, unlike their counterparts on the next two floors. The Psychology department will be getting a lab area on the second floor which will have a computer lab, interview rooms for surveys or sessions, a focus room for groups and a black box perception room. Computer programming will also have an all new computer lab to use.
Back on the ground floor, there will be a new Sodexo food venue dedicated to coffee, tea, snacks and baked goods. So far, this new food place does not have a name yet. This will be one of the only recognizable parts of the building, as it is going where the vending machine café area used to be. The vending machines will be moved to a separate area and will be open even when the food venue closes. This area will be surrounded by glass in a three story box, according to the computer model. All infrastructure systems are being replaced such as electric and plumbing. Also more A.D.A access or Americans with Disabilities Act access.
One of the best features and probably the most needed part of construction is the new offices. “The office tower has struction is the new offices. “The office tower has been taken down, largely because it was a bit confusing to users of the building.” said Rathbone. “After much study and deliberation, we thought that the best thing to do was just demolish the office tower and build a new office; new structure which will replace the office tower.” These offices will now be in the back of the building with simple access from both the outside and inside. There will be no more half floors or navigating multiple stair cases, as the building is now level at three stories. This should be a relief for those students who had a hard time navigating the labyrinth.
The exterior should be roughly the same, but the windows and the new bricks should give a slightly new feel to it. Rathbone admits, “Fitzelle was not the most interesting building architecturally, so it will be enhanced.” There will also now be a covered walkway between IRC and Fitzelle, which means IRC will probably be getting a new door facing Fitzelle. A new bridge is also being put in through the side facing Hunt to get over that hilly area and the snow should not give students any problems crossing it. Windows from the third floor will come out of the roof with a white overhang structure. That combined with the three story glass box on the side near IRC will give Fitzelle a new face lift.
As for the cost, the overall budget so far is $33 million. That’s $27 million for construction, $3 million for design and another $3 million for furnishing and equipment. Scott Barton has assured that the construction will continue through the winter.
A rough image of the new Fitzelle can be seen on the college’s website by clicking on the virtual tour button under the About Oneonta tab. Then, either look for Fitzelle in the locations tab or search for it in the search box. As for the next project on SUNY Oneonta’s agenda, Rathbone says to expect construction on the Physical Science building to begin in the summer of 2014 as Fitzelle is completed.