SLCC students to walk new halls this spring

The new Health and Sciences building at South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette includes an auditorium that can hold up to 250. (Photo: LEE CELANO/THE ADVERTISER)

LAFAYETTE, La. (The Daily Advertiser) – South Louisiana Community College students will experience new classrooms, labs and a lot of new technology when they start the spring semester Jan. 9 in the Health and Sciences building on the Lafayette campus.

The exterior of the building at the corner of Devalcourt and Bertrand streets features brick, tin and a large double-helix, giving onlookers an immediate idea of what disciplines will be taught inside.

Beginning this spring, it will house more than 100 class sections of nursing, biology, chemistry, physics, physical science and geology with a total duplicated enrollment of approximately 3,000 students, said Bryan Glatter, vice chancellor of administration and finance for SLCC. Unduplicated enrollment in the sections would range from 1,250 to 1,500 students.

Construction on the nearly $17 million project began Aug. 31, 2015, and the plan was to have it completed before the spring semester. A few extra weather delays are cutting it close, but students still will be inside in January.

There were about 60 “weather days” throughout the project, but most had been built into the contract. The Lemoine Co. still had to extend the contract 16 days due to unforeseen weather — most of which were part of August’s historic flooding.

“No one could build that in,” said Christine Payton, communications and marketing director for SLCC.

That pushed the substantial completion date from Nov. 22 to Thursday when The Daily Advertiser toured the new digs. The building remains empty, with furniture expected to start arriving next week. Even on a dreary day the large, open windows along the side of the building provided natural light, and that theme extended throughout the interior as well.

The 65,000-square-foot building has three floors, each outfitted for specific purposes. The first floor features a large auditorium that can hold 250. The room with a giant projector screen is to be used for lecture classes, departmental meetings or even by community members renting the space.

When rented for conference space, the area can be blocked off from the rest of the floor, which features student areas and nine classrooms that can hold about 40 students each.

The second floor is where much of the nursing magic will happen. Its halls, elevators and most door frames are as wide as those inside hospitals, allowing enough room for RN and LPN students to move hospital beds with mannequins from one of its three nursing labs to areas outfitted like an intensive care unit, pediatrics and obstetrics rooms.

Each of these rooms are equipped with technology to allow for “external viewing.” So senior nursing students could perform tasks on a patient in one of the labs while students in lower-level classes watch and learn from them in another room. Or teachers can observe their progress without being part of the simulation.

With new construction comes new technology. The building is equipped with interactive smartboards, automatic lighting for energy efficiency, and several outlets and charging stations for phones and laptops. Its spacious server room offers SLCC room to grow. The building has several devices to allow for any room to become a computer lab.

The third floor includes four science labs, four classrooms, and offices and conference rooms for faculty and administration. One long hall of brand-new offices keeps faculty connected, allowing for easy communication within and between departments.

From the hospital-like second floor to the administrative offices, it’s clear planning the building was a thoughtful process to ensure every space had a purpose, was student-centered and allowed for growth in the future.

SLCC students in the health and sciences have been taking classes mostly in Ardoin, the building next door. All the science and nursing lecture classes and science labs will move over to the new building Jan. 9, but the nursing labs will wait until later in the semester, Glatter said.

This will free up some space in Ardoin to allow the school to expand its corporate college division, he said, and provide space for efforts like the Center for Minority Excellence funded through a $2.8 million, five-year federal grant SLCC was awarded this year.

Project specs:

Groundbreaking: June 15, 2015

Project commencement: Aug. 31, 2015

Substantial completion: Dec. 8, 2016

Weather delays extending the project: 16 days

Square footage: Gross 65,332; net 61,524

Contract amount: $16,448,794

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