Residents eager to know about Lee University’s latest building project in downtown Cleveland will be happy to hear construction is set to begin Monday.
The new building will be dedicated to Lee University’s communications program and will connect the campus to downtown Cleveland.
According to official specs, the entrance of the building will face Church Street, specifically the front of the Church Street Annex building. The body of the building will lie between Ocoee and Church streets, along Central Avenue to the south.
The new Communication Arts Building is expected to be in use by the fall semester in August 2014.
The new communications building will be built on land once used for J.C. Penney, Woolworth’s and Cole’s Drug Store, a small drive-in bank building on North Ocoee and Church street’s Corn Apartments.
Pedestrian traffic to the building will primarily be on Church Street. However, entrances will be made available all around the building. Drawings for the building even include a deck and porch construction seen on most of Lee’s other buildings.
Lee’s President Paul Conn assured consideration has been given to how aesthetically pleasing the building will appear from every angle.
“... We want this building to look terrific from Ocoee Street, so there really is no ‘back’ of the building,” Conn said. “It’s designed with a 360-degree view, and there will also be an entrance on the corner of Ocoee and Central Avenue, facing town and the courthouse.”
The presently unnamed building will not be as large as either the Science and Math Complex on Ocoee Street or Parker Street’s Humanities building. Reports claim the finished product will be a 40,000-square-foot, two-story building. Total cost for the building is $10 million, including site, construction and equipment.
Features found within the building are set to highlight and encourage Lee’s communications students’ growing talents.
“Some of the most remarkable and creative work at Lee is being done in the Communications Department,” Conn explained. “It’s time for us to give them a space of their own, with top-notch equipment and facilities.”
Conn noted, “I believe this is one of the brightest areas at Lee moving into the future.”
Some features students, teachers, alumni and curious visitors can expect include a state-of-the-art “black box” theater seating 200 for stage productions; a TV studio and soundstage; a 120-seat film screening theater; eight video editing suites; a student journalism lab; 22 faculty offices; classrooms of various sizes; and a computer lab.
Conn said Acoustic Dimensions, Inc., a Dallas, Texas, company which specializes in theatrical and telecommunications venues, will be supervising the outfitting of the building.
The building will also include a food kiosk for Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe, a Connecticut-based operator of restaurants. The newest food venue will feature flatbreads, wraps and sandwiches. This will continue Lee’s tradition of incorporating an alternative to vending machines for students and staff in their newer buildings. Others found on campus include: Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Chick-fil-A, Einstein Bagels and Jazzman’s Coffee.
LU’s communication department’s facilities are currently spread across campus.
For example, small productions often take place in the Vest Building’s Edna Minor Conn Theatre.
In addition, classes are spread across campus from the Dixon Center to Humanities and even the Science and Math Complex. The new building will allow a centralized location.
Last year, 369 students had communication majors, with various others studying the discipline as a minor.
Conn expressed his eagerness for construction to begin.
“It’s exciting finally to be starting on this project,” Conn said. “It’s going to connect our campus directly to the downtown business district in a beautiful and dynamic way.”
“We are excited to get underway,” said Cole Strong, director of special projects and the administrator supervising the construction. “Now we need some dry weather so we can get the footers in the ground and start building the super structure. It’s going to be an exciting next couple of months.”
Tri-Con, Inc., a design-build firm, will be constructing the project. Rardin and Carroll Architects will serve as lead consulting architects on the new communication center.