SU Academic Commons headed for fall opening

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Salisbury University’s new, impressive building is taking shape, rising four stories skyward and promising to be a state-of-the-art centerpiece for the campus and community.

Not only will the $117 million Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons offer students quiet study and library space, but there will also be areas open all day and all night every day of the week and a two-story café.

With 221,037 square feet – three times the size of the university’s modern Teacher Education and Technology Center  –  GAC will house the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, and be open to the public.

“It will be the crossroads of the campus. Every faculty member, every student, will use this facility practically every day. This will be the academic heart of campus. Wi-Fi will be extended and broadcast from this building,” said Eric Berkheimer, associate vice president of facilities for SU, as he led a tour for local media, all in hard hats and bright yellow vests.

“It’s a transformation for the campus. The atrium will be the most special place on campus. It will be the place where everybody goes to meet,” he said.

Staffing it could also mean 15 to 20 new jobs for the city, from housekeepers to librarians. SU officials will ask the state for funding to hire additional employees. Berkheimer said he didn’t yet know the cost.

Financial gain to the region from constructing the building is $238 million, according to SU’s public relations department.

Opening in the fall of 2016, GAC will be the largest academic building in the history of the university.

The structure will have 32,000 square feet of green roof space, equal to half a football field. It will be planted with a low ground cover, so that rain water that normally collects oils and sediment from rooftops is naturally filtered before falling to the ground and running  into sewers.

Environmentally superior, GAC will be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “LEED” Gold Building, highly energy efficient with a positive health impact on occupants.

Replacing the bells that sound on the hour at  Holloway Hall now will be a 147-foot Samuel R. Brown Carillon, the tallest structure on campus, with 48 bells weighing 27,655 pounds.

The largest weighs 4,480 pounds, twice the size of the Liberty Bell.

The Library Service Desk will be on the first floor, along with the information technology help desk, the first floor of the café, gathering and exhibit space. “This area really is going to be the heartbeat of the campus,” Berkheimer said.

The second floor will have the writing center, Center for Student Achievement, Math Emporium, faculty center, graduate commons and group study space.

A strictly quiet space with library collections will be on the third floor, with 2 miles of library shelves, soft seating and illumination. “There will be a lot of daylight to really permeate into the building,” Berkheimer said.

On the fourth floor, there will be an assembly hall with terrace, board meeting room, Nabb Center and exhibit space.

Twelve classrooms will be in the building, 18 group study rooms and 418 seats in the assembly hall.

Featuring a plaza outdoors, near Red Square, the building will have three entrances, with the main one facing Route 13.

“The public will be able to use the Nabb Center as a resource center. It will be an iconic building. All people can come, learn about local history, use the spaces for lectures,” Berkheimer said.

“For some time, it will be the best library in the state. It will be seen as the new benchmark for the state.”

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Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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