BCTC announced its plans to renovate the main student computing lab on the sixth floor of the Newman Library Building through an email sent to all students on Nov. 10. The renovation will expand the capacity of the lab, removing an interior wall on the north side of the floor to add space for student seating. New computers will be placed at every workstation while a new printer alcove and new printers, scanners and other equipment will be available for student use. New carpets, chairs, tables and lounge seating will be added to the space as the lab is divided into separate areas to accommodate the differing needs of group work and individual work. Electrical outlets will also be installed at every table.
During the course of the project, six new student collaboration rooms will be added to the floor, with presentation and conferencing equipment available for student use in each of the rooms.
The help desk will be moved to the entrance hall area that is much easier to access. A bring-your-own-device area will also be installed during the project.
The renovation schedule is divided into two phases, with phase one seeing the construction of a temporary wall to separate the north and south sides of the lab. Construction will then begin on the south side of the lab, while the north side will remain open for student use. Once the south side is completely finished, the second phase will begin. During this phase, the north side of the lab will close for construction and the south side will open for student use.
“We are doing everything we can to maintain access to computers and seating during the construction period, although we realize that it will be a challenge during final exams when we are at peak capacity across campus,” Dr. Arthur Downing, vice president of Information Services and dean of the library, said via email.
To accommodate the lack of space, computers and seating areas will be relocated to other floors of the library.
Downing also explained the process to gain approval for the project.
In early 2011, Baruch College submitted a request to fund the project to Christine Quinn, who, at the time, was the speaker of the New York City Council. The computer lab needed an upgrade from its 1994 opening, explained Downing, making it an “obvious” choice for the college as a capital improvement project that could potentially be funded by the city. Quinn approved the request and added it to the 2012 fiscal year budget, which was followed by a lengthy design process that lasted several years.
According to Downing, members of the Undergraduate Student Government made “decisions regarding space allocation, features of the lab and even details of the furniture.” However, all time tables and contractors are being managed by the college.
It is too soon to know just how much the student population will be impacted by the renovation, but students have questions that they hope will be answered in the coming months. Others are simply excited by the new prospects the renovated computer lab will bring.
“I think renovations are supposed to be a good thing—like new stuff, new look. It’s cool,” said Juan Pablo, a student who works in the sixth floor computer lab.
Work on the renovation began on on Nov. 16 and is expected to span until the summer of 2017. BCTC hopes to reopen the computer lab by the Fall 2017 semester.