Seeking to preserve its past and build for the future, Bronx Community College (BCC) has put forward a five-year, $178 million capital proposal for its celebrated landmark campus on University Heights that calls for innovative design, respects its acclaimed architectural heritage and provides critically needed modern infrastructure to bring the 110-year old campus into the 21st century.
The plan, which calls for investment of more than $107 million in the first year alone, was approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York on November 27, 2007, and is contained within the Universityâ€™s multi-campus capital request for the 2008-2009 budget that is now under review by city and state.
â€œThis historic capital request addresses longstanding physical plant needs with major new construction, rehabilitation, and capital equipment in support of the Collegeâ€™s mission,â€ said President Carolyn G. Williams. â€œIt envisions an environmentally friendly campus that is at once beautiful and functional. Its goal is to re-invent one of New York Cityâ€™s great architectural treasures and by doing so enable the college to continue to inspire our students to seek the highest standards of learning for many years to come.â€
Funds requested would go towards the following improvements:
* $24.76 million for construction and equipment costs for building the new $77 million North Instructional Building and Library, designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects. The North Instructional Building will house 15 large classrooms and the new library with a cafÃ© on its first floor, providing the space-starved campus breathing room and flexibility. The second floor will include a vast, two-story information commons, along with a ring of small group-study rooms and four lounge areas. On the third story, book stacks will surround a balcony overlooking the reading room. The building will be constructed for The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification, a green building rating developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.
* $68.16 million for construction of mechanical / electrical infrastructure upgrades. This project will make critical improvements to the campusâ€™s existing cooling, heating and electrical systems including all window units. The new North Instructional Building will be connected to these new systems. The new systems will improve power availability for the future while cutting costs for energy consumption.
* $5 million for design and construction of a campus-wide fire alarm replacement. This project will replace the outdated fire alarm systems in all buildings on the campus. The existing line voltage fire alarm system in each building will be replaced with new solid state, low voltage systems.
* $3.1 million for design and construction for the improvement of the public water supply, which has not received a major upgrade since its construction more than a century ago.
* $2.7 million for design and construction of health and safety upgrades. This project will correct health and safety deficiencies on the campus that have been identified in building condition assessment surveys. It will include many small projects including improvements of emergency phone systems, certifications of chemical storage rooms, tripping hazards on walkways, hand rails, cracks in masonry, manhole covers, etc.
* Approximately $2 million for design and construction for the first phase of a campus-wide roofing program. This project will begin to replace roofs on all 30 of the collegeâ€™s buildings. Havemeyer, Meister and Philosophy Halls will be the first buildings addressed. This project will also make the roof of the Gould Memorial Library water tight. Under the plan, all roofs will be replaced over the next 12 years.
Stanford White, premier American architect of the 19th century, designed the historic campus, which is noted for its land marked buildings, the Gould Memorial Library, flanked by two classroom buildings, Languages and Philosophy Halls, and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, a colonnade lined with bronze busts that stretches in a graceful arc. In the 1960s, notable international architect Marcel Breuer designed the eight-story Meister Hall, which houses the current library, along with classrooms, laboratories and offices. Breuer also designed Bergrisch, Polowczyk and Colston Halls. The campus was originally completed in 1899 for New York University. In 1973 NYU sold its Bronx campus, at West 181st Street and University Avenue, to CUNY.
President Williams thanked the CUNY Trustees for their support. She also thanked Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, Executive Vice Chancellor Allan Dobrin and Vice Chancellor for Facilities, Design and Construction Management Iris Weinshall for their support in â€œbringing forth this comprehensive plan for Bronx Community College. Now we need to work with all our supporters and elected officials to make this plan a reality.â€
She noted that strong support for the capital plan was contained within the findings of the New York State Commission in Higher Education, which noted in its December 2007 preliminary report to Governor Eliot Spitzer that aging infrastructure remains the greatest capital budget concern, not only at CUNY but also at the State University of New York. â€œThe most critical need,â€ according to the commission, â€œinvolves infrastructure subsystems, especially aging underground power, heat and water distribution systems.â€
Meanwhile, the College is moving forward with a number of projects already in the pipeline. More than $5 million has been appropriated for new on-campus construction for a 120-student Child Development Center. The construction contract was registered by the New York City Comptroller and construction of the new center will start in 2008.
The College is renovating its 325-seat Playhouse. The renovation includes rebuilding and rehabilitating its stage and refurbishing the seats, adjusting the lighting, and replacing the carpet. The opening is scheduled for May 1. Weatherproofing for the Library roof will be completed this spring.
The College has started on the design of a stair-step emergency exit path, an egress, for the Rotunda in the Gould Memorial Library. The construction is scheduled for completion in summer 2009. The new passageway will allow an increase in the permissible occupancy from 75 to 350 people.
This spring, construction will begin in the Roscoe Brown Student Center. This project will include renovation of the bookstore and cafeteria. The bookstore will move to the ground floor and the cafeteria will be on two levels. Both facilities will become wheelchair accessible. In addition, a new elevator for the building will be constructed.