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Clarkson University Breaks Ground for New Student Center

[A photograph for media use is available at jpg ]

Clarkson University students, alumni, trustees, faculty, staff and friends broke ground on Saturday for a new student center. University trustees gave the go-ahead for the project during their meeting on campus this past weekend.Student Center

Although the ceremony was held indoors due to inclement weather, initial stages of construction on the building will begin outdoors in a few weeks, with completion slated for August 2010.

Clarkson University President Tony Collins acknowledged the significant contributions of students in driving the project and of the University’s board of trustees for its leadership in understanding the evolving dynamic of student life on a residential college campus.

Current and past student association leaders, who initiated the project, wielded green and gold shovels and spoke at the ceremony about the role of the University’s students and young alumni in moving an idea into reality in a short time.

Since identifying the need three years ago, students have been closely involved in planning and design. They have even taken the lead in funding the center with a pledge of more than $7 million over 10 years, spurred by a self-assessed annual increase in activity fees.

The new building, located between the Educational Resources Center (ERC) and Rowley Laboratories, is designed to reflect Clarkson’s commitment to the integration of learning and living, and to connect the built and natural worlds.

A blend of classical and modern design, the building will echo architectural elements elsewhere on campus while becoming the University’s visual centerpiece and iconic symbol of its learning-living culture.

"Appropriately, the Student Center will be located at the heart of campus," says Kathryn B. Johnson, vice president for University Outreach and Student Affairs. "It completes the connection among all academic buildings, emphasizing the interconnectedness of our educational programs."

"This center is going to connect us to one another and to Clarkson in a whole new way," says Story Elliott ’10, a member of the center’s steering committee.

While Clarkson President Tony Collins emphasizes the position the new Student Center will play in supporting Clarkson’s learning-living campus community, he adds that the decision to build the new Student Center is also a strategic one. "To remain competitive we must offer prospective students not only first-rate academic programs, but state-of-the-art facilities that meet today’s expectations and that enhance the overall quality of the Clarkson experience," says Collins.

Linked by elevated glass-walled passageways to the library and other academic buildings east and west of it, the facility will also be near residence complexes to the north and south. Filling 56,000 square feet on three levels, it will offer much-needed space for student organizations and extracurricular social activities.

Designed by Boston-based architects Perkins & Will, the $25-million project will feature an exterior of red brick, with sandstone accents and chimneys, as well as arched windows that resonate with historic Old Main. Complementing this traditional fa�ade will be its soaring glass-and-steel wall on the west side. Reaching to the highest roof peak (to be capped by an Old Main-style cupola), this window wall will create a visual connection to other newer buildings and the campus’s glass-and-steel passageways. Green environmental principles and sustainable energy practices will guide the facility’s construction and operation.

All interior areas will be multifunctional and adapt easily to evolving needs. Flexibility will be maximized (via mobile walls and furnishings) and the visibility of activities will be increased by numerous windows through interior walls. The many exterior windows will provide natural daylight plus visual connections to the campus and Adirondack foothills.

The center’s largest interior space will be a three-story amphitheater atrium (or forum) for concerts, entertainers, lecturers, large-screen broadcasts, and other student community-wide events. From a floor and stage area near the tall window wall, bench seats will rise to mid-level, surrounded entirely by balconies on each of the three adjoining floor levels.

On either side of the forum, every level will feature a dozen or more large and small rooms. A dining hall and nearby food court, convenience store, mailroom, and several multipurpose areas will be available to all students, as will others for music practice, games, a bar, multicultural activities, and meditation.

Conference rooms, desk work areas, and storage spaces will serve student groups and Clarkson’s 100 organizations. The student newspaper, radio and television stations will all benefit from dedicated, state-of-the-art facilities.

Outside to the northwest students will enjoy a terrace-surrounded fire pit, and on the south they will have access to patio seating.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University’s new student center, as viewed from the southwest.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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