By KELLY KULTYS
After opening Hughes Hall at the start of the fall 2012 semester and the McGinley Fitness Center in October, many are curious what will be updated or renovated next. Marco Valera, vice president of Facilities, announced the Facilities department has many plans currently in the works to continue updating campus.
“From our perspective, it seems like those were two very good projects that improved the facilities at Rose Hill,” Valera said.
He hopes that they can continue that success with their current plans, especially the biggest one — the renovation of Faber and Loyola Halls.
“Loyola and Faber are projects that are going to take us a few years to get [finished] because of really transitioning the building over to a new use takes time with planning, and we have to fund the projects,” Valera said.
Currently, Facilities is working on transitioning academic departments into Faber Hall.
“The project we’re moving on this year is the old dining facility that was used by the Jesuits,” Valera said. “In phase one, we’re renovating the old dining facility. We’re going to keep the kitchen. We’re going to create a nice event space for the University to use that can be catered or just a lecture hall or even a meeting space.”
The space would be able to hold approximately 120 people for dinner events and many more for others, like speaking events. This part of the project in Faber Hall is continuing from this year into the next school year.
The next step in the project would be renovations to open up more space in Loyola Hall in the upcoming years.
“There are some thoughts about bringing campus ministry in because there is a beautiful chapel inside, and we want to keep that,” Valera said. “This year we’re putting together a planning team on how to use that space, so we haven’t identified who’s going in there yet.”
Valera also mentioned that these renovations could open up more classroom space, which is needed on campus.
“We’re working with the deans to look at some programs in Keating that might come relocate to Loyola and then turn Keating back to classroom space,” Valera said.
One of the major obstacles in their way for these project renovations is making the buildings fit the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) regulations. The renovated buildings must be accessible to those with disabilities, such as those restricted to wheelchairs. Currently, members of the Fordham community can only enter through stairs in the front.
“That’s one of the first hurdles we have to get through the Building Department,” Valera said. “We have an approved access plan for the two facilities. We now have a preliminary plan to move forward with design and our thought is – the driveway in front where the Ram Vans used to go, would go away and we would raise it by filling it so it comes up in height. [This] would allow us to create a plaza-area and once we raise it, we could have wheelchairs come in and through a series of ramps to get to both buildings.”
Valera said that this was a part of a long-term plan to make all buildings on campus accessible to students with disabilities.
“[In] the interior of the buildings we’ve laid the accessible paths so all the buildings would be fully accessible,” Valera said.
Besides Faber and Loyola renovations, Valera said there were other plans in play for different areas of Fordham’s campus.
“Downtown [at the Lincoln Center campus] we’re going through a planning process, so once the new law school opens, how are we going to use the old law school?” Valera said.
Facilities is also working on many minor renovations throughout campus. Valera said some of the improvements might be mundane, but necessary.
“We’re looking to air condition the Lombardi Center,” Valera said. “One of the reasons we’re looking to do that is because Lombardi is one of our areas of refuge, if we have to move students out of dorms for emergencies or something along those lines. “
This will also allow for Lombardi to be used throughout the summer for more programming opportunities, such as with Athletics. Lombardi is also part of a “green-project,” as Valera said they are looking to put as many solar panels as possible on the roof to harness solar power.
Valera also said that about $2 million has been set aside to renovate and update residential facilities, such as lounge improvements and common-area additions.
“That’s tough because they’re used a lot even in the summer time,” Valera said.
Also, Facilities is planning to finish renovations to the labs on the third floor of Freeman Hall over the summer. The turf of Murphy Field will also be replaced to help athletic programming. Finally, the area in front of Duane Library will be renovated due to poor drainage, which recently caused flooding in the building.
While continuing to update the campus, Valera and his staff are continuing to look to the long-term larger plans.
“And then we’re starting a planning initiative for a longer-term goal of the campus, which is to build a new campus center,” Valera said. “That’ll take us several years to plan through since that’s a fairly large addition.”