Social Sciences renovation begins


By Benjamin Engle


On Jan. 3, interior renovation commenced on the Social Sciences building as the first and second floors were demolished. The project, supported by a gift from Jim Lippman ’79 and his wife, Linda, will reconfigure and modernize the upper levels of the Social Sciences building for the first time in its 44-year history. In the coming weeks, demolition work will continue as well as the beginning of asbestos remediation.

The building, which will be renamed Lippman Hall when completed in August, will contain new smart classrooms, lounges, and administrative spaces. In addition to redesigned areas, the building will be equipped with a new elevator and staircases. A new entrance and portico will be constructed on the north side of the building; however, the exterior of the building, including the windows, will not be altered.

The first floor will contain 19 faculty offices, a 280 square foot seminar room, a 699 square foot classroom, two administrative assistant areas, and two student-study spaces.

Additionally, the second floor will contain 22 faculty offices, a 366 square foot classroom, a 419 square foot seminar room, two administrative assistant areas, and a faculty lounge. The basement, which was renovated during the summer of 2007 and reopened during fall term of 2007, will not be renovated; however, new bathrooms and ceiling sprinkler systems will be installed on that level.

[pullquote]“The floor plans on the first and second floors will be reconfigured to provide a more open feeling, with areas for students to study and interact with the faculty.”

Loren Rucinski, Director of Facilities and Planning[/pullquote]

According to Director of Facilities and Planning Loren Rucinski, the Social Sciences building was in dire need of renovation. “The Social Sciences building is one of the heaviest used buildings on campus. The lower level had been renovated a few years ago; however, the rest of the building needed a full renovation,” he said.

Since their construction in 1967, the Social Sciences and Humanities buildings will continue to have identical exteriors but after the renovation, they will cease to look or feel similar inside.

“The floor plans on the first and second floors will be reconfigured to provide a more open feeling, with areas for students to study and interact with the faculty,” Rucinski stated. “At the north end of the building on the first floor, there will be an area open up to the second floor. All new finishes and furnishings will give the interior a much different look than what you all are used to.”

In the six months leading up to the construction phase of the project, the building’s programming and design had been discussed by the Social Sciences Building  and Lippman Design Committee. The committee has considered all the aspects of the building’s construction and design including the electronic facilities, location, windows, seating arrangements, and furniture. According to Rucinski, green building methods and materials will be used throughout the renovation. The team also met with relevant construction and college groups, and will oversee the project until its completion.

Chair of the Social Sciences Building and Lippman Design Committee Eshragh Motahar believes that despite trade-offs, the renovation will bring positive results.

“Given the various constraints and parameters that we faced and face—the overall shape of the building, various building codes, the renovation budget—I think we have ended up with a very good design,” he said.

The Social Sciences building, which according to Wayne Somers’ Encyclopedia of Union College “was regarded by Union’s architects as completing the Ramée campus plan,” needed to be renovated to continue to meet the future needs of the History, Sociology, Political Science, and Economics Departments.

“We made every effort to make sure that all of the [classroom, seminar, and interaction] spaces meet the pedagogical needs of our college,” Motahar said. “All of these spaces are both aesthetically pleasing and functionally useful. We hope that they will provide an environment conducive to enhanced learning.”


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