Construction temporarily slashes parking
The view of the North Avenue building from North Avenue and Morris Avenue.
By Annalise Knudson
Parking spots are fenced off, potholes are getting worse, and trucks and workers move on and off campus all day, as construction continues on another new building coming to Kean University.
Gruskin Group, the award-winning company that built the Green Lane building that opened its doors for the spring 2014 semester, designed the six-story North Avenue Academic Building.
The 114,700-square-feet building is on the corner of Morris and North Avenues and will house the computer science and allied health programs including physical therapy and physician’s assistant degree programs. It is expected to be completed by July (2015).
“With the demand for health professionals steadily increasing, Kean University is determined to offer qualitatively superior programs in world-class facilities,” said Danielle Ford, the University’s Marketing Communications Strategist. “The North Avenue Academic Building will be such a facility, pushing the boundaries of 21st century learning.”
The building will be connected to Kean’s main campus by flowing paths and park like outdoor areas.
The building will feature a 500-seat auditorium with a Meyer Sound “Constellation” system that electronically optimizes acoustics for lectures and presentations. It will also host the Kean Board meetings. The system will allow playback 2D or 3D high-definition content for vocal, choral, and musical performances using the surround sound system.
Some Kean students are upset with the construction of new buildings when older buildings still go without technology upgrades.
Kean sophomore and Athletic Training major, Raymond Cruz, does not believe that it is a good idea to build the new buildings.
“I feel like they’re wasting money,” Cruz said. “It makes no sense because half the buildings we have now aren’t even filled.”
Kean hopes the new building will help change the minds of current students as well as prospective students.
“The building is designed to facilitate new ways for students and faculty to interact, socialize, engage, learn, and study both in and outside the classroom, via its numerous lounges, breakout spaces, intimate nooks, outdoor terraces, and even corridors that become gathering spots using integrated technologies and the students’ own personal devices,” Ford said. “We are confident that these features will provide enhanced education and earn the approval of our students.”
The interactive and audience-collaboration system can allow up to 100 students to post content simultaneously from a variety of electronic devices to the auditorium’s main screen.
“A 30-foot-wide by 7-foot-high interactive iTouch wall, planned for the building’s main lobby, will allow students to draw, research, play games and search online with a mere swipe of the hand,” according to Gruskin Group’s website.
Even though the Green Lane building just recently opened, Ford confirmed that because Kean continues to grow and expand, it has an ongoing need for new educational and research facilities for its students.
Tyler Piazzolla, a senior Physical Education and Health major, believes that it is a good idea for Kean to build the new North Avenue building.
“It takes away parking, but it’s also good to expand the programs,” he said. “The students who are in the program will benefit further for their education.”
Currently 188 spaces out of the 1,444 spaces in the Vaughn Eames parking lot are being used for construction.
Of the 188 spaces, about 60 spaces are being used for the Vaughn Eames Scene Shop project, which will be completed by May, and the spaces will again be available to students. The other 128 spaces are being used for the North Avenue Academic Building project.
“When the project is complete, all but about 10 spaces will be available to the students once again,” Ford said. “The 10 spaces that will not be available are because we will be adding a trolley stop at the front of the building.”
Kean students can expect to find the building finished when they return to Kean for the fall semester.