Eastern's New Communication Building Meets the Present, Greets the Future
WILLIMANTIC, CT (09/14/2018) The biggest change to the Eastern Connecticut State University campus this fall is the opening of the newly renovated Communication Building. For the past 14 months, the building remained shuttered while under construction, but reopened in August with a modernized design and a number of improvements to efficiency and technology.
Originally constructed in the early 1970s, the building's extensive renovations include new state-of-the-art facilities for television production, sound recording, audio production and video editing.
"It is as important to refresh our existing facilities as it is to build new ones," remarked Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "In using such state-of-the-art technology, students in our Communication and New Media Studies majors can better prepare for careers in the media world of the 21st century."
All of the classrooms have been upgraded with new equipment; the television studio and radio station are now revamped; and three new computer labs were constructed.
"These new media production spaces provide unique opportunities for communication majors to practice and hone the skills that they learn in class," said Communication Professor Andrew Utterback, who added, "The faculty are thrilled to be teaching in such a modern, up-to-date space."
The classrooms follow Eastern's standards for smart-classroom design, with increased square-foot-per-student ratios that allow for better accessibility and provide ample space for collaboration between students and faculty.
"The physical environment has a powerful effect on students' ability to learn," said Communication Professor Edmond Chibeau. "This new building is an example of Eastern's dedication to giving students an ergonomically designed state-of-the-art learning environment."
Subtler improvements to the Communication Building include efficiencies in sustainability. The renovations follow high-performance (green) building standards set by the State of Connecticut. Such standards include utilizing recyclable materials for a portion of the construction, as well as materials sourced within 500 miles of the worksite. Improvements have also been made to water conservation, energy conservation and insulation.
"We meet these high-performance standards and now have a building that is significantly more efficient than the previous building," said Renee Keech, director of Facilities Management and Planning.
Building renovations also took into consideration occupants' mental health by admitting higher levels of daylight and offering more views. Communication Professor Terri Toles-Patkin agreed: "Students and faculty are getting a morale boost just from being in this new space."
One of the Communication Building's most distinct changes is a glass-encased façade on the north end. This ground-level area was once an outdoor concrete tunnel, but now is a vibrant foyer furnished with contemporary furniture.
In addition to the foyer, Keech added, "This gave us space to prominently place the radio station and provide a multipurpose room that can be used by the communication department and the university."
"This was a much needed facelift, and one that goes beyond its impressive appearance," concluded Toles-Patkin. "This is a building designed not only to meet the needs of the present but to anticipate the changes of the future."
Written by Michael Rouleau
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut's public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut's 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 26 other states and 20 other countries. A residential campus offering 40 majors and 65 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 25th top public university in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2018 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded 'Green Campus' status by the Princeton Review eight years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.