State of the art educationAfter months of construction, the hard hats came off this week in Swenson Hall, the newest academic building on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
After months of construction, the hard hats came off this week in Swenson Hall, the newest academic building on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus.
“Oh, man, this is terrific,” said Reilly O’Halloran, manager of Trio programs at UWS, as he walked through the open central area Tuesday. “I love this space.”
UWS freshman Helena Miller was handing out maps to visitors. She said Swenson Hall, located west of Yellowjacket Union and north of Old Main, is “incredible” and deceptively large.
“This building is so big, it’s like the size of the rest of our campus,” said Aaron Wainman, a vocal performance major who toured the building Tuesday. The senior expects to take French and science courses at Swenson Hall this fall.
Despite the size of the building, nearly every room boasted natural light. It came in through outer windows, but also through interior windows that tap into the building’s three-story light well.
“We love it,” said Wayne Gilroy, who works help desk for UWS, as he walked through Swenson Hall. “It’s really come together.”
The hall pulls together departments from McCaskill and Sundquist halls — education, social inquiry, human behavior and diversity, math and computer science, world languages, literatures and cultures and writing, reading and library science — and adds support programs, labs and classrooms.
“It’s all right here,” O’Halloran said. “It’s all going to be centered right here.” With so much in one spot, he said, the site will serve as a hub for student activity.
Swenson Hall has total wireless coverage for student laptops and smart phones, and the latest in technology hard-wired into place, according to Joe Kmiech, director of technical support. Three lecture halls boast dual screens and lecture-capture technology. A total of 30 connected classrooms — with video projectors, built-in screens, DVD capabilities and more — await students.
“I think what the students are going to like best are the loft areas,” Miller said, singling out two open, carpeted lounges with a bird’s eye view of the campus. The spots include plenty of outlets for plugging in computers and other gadgets.
For Kmiech, one of the best things about the building is the way it will bring technology together … the department, that is. Instead of separate offices in Old Main and McCaskill Hall, the entire department of technology services will be under the same roof.
For English Professor Nick Sloboda, it offers a new luxury — classrooms in the same building. He said he would occasionally get to class, realize he left a folder in his office, and have to trek back to his office in Sundquist Hall get it. Many of his colleagues with offices in Sundquist used wheeled pieces of luggage to tote their materials to and from class.
Swenson Hall is the third new building in 10 years to be built at UWS. At 144,000 square feet, it is the largest construction project in the university’s 118-year history. It includes sustainability features that make the most use of natural light, uses recycled flooring materials and is fitted with energy-efficient mechanical systems.
The project’s price tag — which includes razing Sundquist and McCaskill Halls — is $32 million. Construction is currently on budget and on schedule, according to facilities management director Tom Fennessey. The building will be turned over to UWS next week. Furniture is slated to start arriving June 1. Faculty and staff should be moving into the new space in July and August.
“Everything’s cruising along,” Fennessey said.