2007-10-04 / Schools

New fine arts center will rise on college campus

Ocean County College held a groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 24 for phase one of construction and renovation on its new fine arts center. The ceremony took place outside on the construction site, adjacent to the existing fine arts building on the main campus, College Drive, Toms River. Those in attendance included students, faculty, staff and members of the OCC Board of Trustees and OCC Foundation.

Speakers included Dr. Jon H. Larson, OCC president; John P. Kelly, Ocean County freeholder director; John C. Bartlett Jr., Ocean County freeholder; Carl V. Thulin, OCC Board of Trustees chairman and member of OCC Foundation Board of Trustees; Linda L. Novak, OCC Board of Trustees secretary; Dr. Richard M. Parrish, OCC vice president of planning and administration; Paul Schwartz from USA Architects, Somerville; and Steve Wallace from Wallace Brothers Construction, Point Pleasant.

According to Parrish, the 2003 OCC Facilities Master Plan identified the need to renew and enhance the college's fine arts center, which opened in January 1971.

"The planning process identified the need for a new academic wing, a renewed and enhanced theater wing, and a renovated academic wing to house the departments of Continuing and Professional Education and the Academy for Lifelong Learning," he explained.

Chapter 12 funds for $13 million were sought from the state and county. The Ocean County Board of Freeholders contributed 50 percent of the project cost, according to a press release.

The first stage is the construction of the new academic wing, which is scheduled for completion by July 15, 2008. This 15,000-square-foot addition will house two computer laboratories, one classroom, four instructional studios, faculty offices, lobbies and support space. The instructional studios will be used for two-dimensional design and drawing, painting, three-dimensional design, and ceramics. This new academic wing will be connected to the existing fine arts center through a stairwell and a new elevator.

The second stage focuses on renovating the east wing of the center including the music wing, a classroom, offices, the theater lobbies and rest rooms. Renovations of the east wing are scheduled between January and August 2008. Although the inside of the theater will not undergo renovations until a second phase II begins in fiscal year 2010, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) improvements will be implemented this academic year and thus the theater will be unavailable from January until September 2008.

The third stage unfolds when the existing academic wing is completely renovated to accommodate the relocation of the College's Continuing and Professional Education Department and the Academy for Lifelong Learning from 150 Brick Boulevard, Brick Township. The renovated west wing will house five classrooms, one computer laboratory and one nursing laboratory. The move into the west wing is scheduled for April 2009.

"With today's groundbreaking for our new fine arts center, Ocean County College has cemented our role as a leader in Ocean County in the fine and performing arts. This wonderful renovation and expansion will ensure that the students of OCC along with members of the community will continue to have the opportunity to both develop their talents and enjoy quality performances and fine arts exhibits," Larson said.

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