Rowan College at Burlington County has officially unveiled the first images of its new Student Success Center and transformed Mt. Laurel campus.
The new construction and redesign come as the college continues plans to transform Mt. Laurel into the college’s main campus site and close the former main campus in Pemberton Township.
The Mt. Laurel site has more students enrolled than all of the college’s other sites combined, as enrollment has drastically shifted over the past decade.
The new 75,000-square-foot Student Success Center has been described as the centerpiece of the redesign and will be positioned to face Route 38 and form a quad with the existing buildings on campus.
Rowan College at Burlington County President Paul Drayton said the building is expected to cost around $22 million, although the expenses have not yet been finalized.
Drayton said the college expects construction to start sometime in August or September, with work completed by the end of 2017.
In describing the building, Drayton said it was designed to focus on students’ needs now and as the college moves into the next 10 or 15 years. Plans for the building include the college’s bookstore, dining services, library or knowledge commons, financial aid offices, student-counseling services, study areas and more.
“We want this building to be their building, not something that we’re designing for our tastes but what really meets the needs our students,” Drayton said.
Mark Coan of USA Architects, Planners + Interior Designers, which is managing the design of the new building, echoed Drayton and said the new building would be the most “student-centric facility” on campus.
Coan described the two-story building as consisting of two block sections connected by an atrium. Dining spaces will fill out the northern right section of the building facing the quad, while areas for the bookstore and partners of RCBC are toward the South side of the building facing Route 38.
“We want this building to be a magnet for students and faculty from the existing quadrangle so we have this welcoming edge,” Coan said.
Coan said much of the building interior will have a “living room concept” to make a space where students feel like they’re at home.
The outside of the building facing Route 38 will have brick-like tones to match other buildings on campus, but also include features meant to invoke a more contemporary feel.
“We wanted something different than what existed, but not so different that it didn’t fit in,” Drayton said.
The college’s Rowan name and logo will also adorn the building on several sides.
In addition to the new building, Drayton said the college also spent time to look for greater efficiency in current buildings as Mt. Laurel becomes RCBC’s main campus.
Drayton said the college’s Enterprise Center, which previously had very little college activity and was run as more of an events facility, will see every single room in the building used for college purposes.
Space that was formerly leased to outside tenants in the college’s former Incubator building, recently renamed Evans Hall, will also now also be used entirely for college purposes.
“It’s important because it saved us from having to build two new buildings, which would have cost $20 million or $30 million if we did not repurpose those buildings,” Drayton said.
Plans for the campus redesign also include the completion of the “loop” road on site, which will now fully enclose the campus and allow drivers to make a complete circle around it.
Drayton and Coan also noted that adequate space also remains in several areas on the Mt. Laurel campus should the college need more buildings in the future.