Renovations to Lowell Thomas scheduled to begin this summer

Renovations to Lowell Thomas will help accomodate new programs and technologies.

Plans to renovate Lowell Thomas, the academic building that houses the School of Communications and the Arts, are finally underway. After almost four years of planning, the director of Physical Plant, Justin Butwell, said that the renovations will begin this summer and cross over to next summer.

According Marist’s website, “The Lowell Thomas Communications Center opened in 1987, allowing students to combine the disciplines of communications, math, and computer science in a state-of-the-art environment.” However, since its construction numerous changes have been made to the campus. The math and computer science departments have been moved to Hancock and the technology that was once state of the art is now outdated and in need of replacement.

“The renovations are long overdue,” said Dr. Paula Willoquet, a professor and chair of the Media Arts Department. “We’ve all been waiting for this to happen and there is really no downside to it.”

Butwell said that the renovation plans include completely gutting and reconfiguring the ground floor, which is prone to ground water seepage. It also sustained a substantial amount of water damage during hurricane Irene. In addition to the demolition of the ground floor there will be some reconfigurations done to the main and upper level including new classrooms and seminar rooms.

“We plan on changing the general esthetic of the building,” said Butwell. “The upgrade is necessary to keep up with the new technologies and remain competitive.”

Lowell Thomas will undergo a series of renovations starting this summer

As of right now none of the renovations are set in stone and some may be altered, but according to Willoquet the renovations will have a tremendous impact on the programs the school has to offer.

Updates to the building will include a new screening room, renovations to the production studios, a new sports communications center on the main floor, and new labs for classes such as digital toolbox which will have glass walls and state of the art flat screen technology.

The Global Studies Department as well as some Admissions offices will also move into Lowell Thomas.

Along with the physical changes to the building, there will be additional upgrades to the equipment that communication majors use.

Joey Wall, the director of Media and Instructional Technology for the Media Center, said that the media center recently donated or recycled a majority of their equipment in order to make room for the new equipment that will be ordered as part of the renovations.

“Marist is dedicated to having the latest technology available for our students and faculty so most of the equipment gets replaced every five years or so,” said Wall.

The plan is to have a completely tapeless production equipment.

“This new equipment will make the program more attractive and exciting to students,” said Willoquet.

The changes to the facility will coincide with the development of a new degree coming in 2013 in media studies and production. This new major will take the place of the radio-TV-film concentration that is currently offered and will provide students with more in depth production and media studies courses. There will also be a new minor added to the schools course offerings in video media.

Construction on Lowell Thomas will begin once this semester comes to a close and will continue until the end of the summer vacation. Butwell said that the construction will have no impact on Fall classes and everything will resume as normal next semester.

“We’re all very excited about the project,” said Willoquet. “After it is completed who wouldn’t want to come here?”