The hum of heavy equipment and whine of power saws signal that improvements and renovations are afoot at Franklin & Marshall College. Whether much-anticipated maintenance projects or innovative changes, the sound of progress is hard to ignore amid the hazy quiet of a summer campus.
Work is under way on everything from new, sustainable, residence hall floors to expanded study areas in Martin Library of the Sciences. But perhaps the most exciting project is taking place in Shadek-Fackenthal Library, where a yet-unnamed creative technology space is being built on the first floor.
"We really would like the library to be a place where active learning is happening — not just a solitary study space or printing area," said Interim College Librarian Scott Vine. "We hope learning and collaboration will happen between both students and faculty in the space we're building here."
The area will feature computers configured with software applications to support a wide range of digital scholarship; Epson Brightlink interactive projectors that allow students to project wirelessly, annotate their work and save it for later use; and possibly 3-D or poster printing and other tools not widely available on campus. Information Technology Services (ITS) and the library are partnering in what Vine said is an attempt to better support the needs of our students and faculty, making this area available for students, classes, workshops, the Faculty Center and others.
"Libraries have always been central to teaching and learning," Vine said. "And if you look around the country now, excellent liberal arts institutions are bringing other ways of connecting with students and faculty into the library. This is what we're doing now."
ITS' Instructional and Emerging Technologies team — Teb Locke, Nydia Manos and Christopher Silansky — works closely with faculty assisting with instructional technology, and hopes to use the space to promote that work, he added. Construction of the project should be wrapped up in July.
Other library projects this summer include a renovation of the periodicals room — a popular gathering space — and enlarged study spaces on the first and top floors of the Martin Library of the Sciences, well-used areas during the academic year.
Elsewhere on campus, "green" floors made of engineered plant material are being installed in several residence halls, according to Associate Vice President for Facilities Operations and Campus Planning Mike Wetzel. The four-foot "bio" planks look like wood but require very little upkeep, he said.
Meanwhile, at Old Main, completed in 1856 and the oldest building on campus, 174 windows will be replaced with new, energy-efficient models that still meet appearance standards for the National Register of Historic Places. To the delight of Old Main personnel, many of whom will be temporarily displaced for renovation, these windows will partially open, unlike those currently in place.
All of the summer's work will cost about $4.8 million, Wetzel said. Most of it will be done well before students start returning to campus in August.