Written By: Angelie Roche
Photo By: Angelie Roche
Many St. Mary’s College of Maryland students who are on campus this fall — especially those living in the Townhouse Crescents– may have noticed the huge construction site just behind the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center. The building under construction is a soon-to-be new academic building and auditorium, which will not only house the Music and Education Departments, but will also feature new amenities including a cafe, study area, more green space and several specialized music studios. According to the St. Mary’s website, the project will cost approximately $66 million dollars and will provide the college with a larger venue for future “concerts, lectures and other events.”
The ongoing construction is broken up into two buildings: the larger, which will house the Music Department, will feature a 700 seat auditorium, with a 2400 square foot two-story lobby, a 125 seat recital hall, eight sound-isolated practice rooms, two ensemble practice rooms and three group practice rooms/classrooms along with dedicated percussion, piano, harp and electronic music studios. The other, which is adjacent to Goodpaster Hall, will house the Education Department, as well as a cafe and a common study area, which will be great resources aimed towards students living in Waring Commons, Lewis Quad and the Townhouses. Additionally, these buildings will continue in the St. Mary’s legacy of sustainability, including high efficiency cooling units, solar panels, and electric vehicle charging stations.
According to Maurice Schlesinger, the Director of Facilities Planning, these buildings will benefit the students in several ways. Besides expanded space for the Music and Education departments, there will be a “direct walkway from Waring Commons to the Goodpaster Courtyard” as well as a “large lawn area for student outdoor activities” in the form of a new campus courtyard. In the long term, the completion of these buildings will cause space in Goodpaster and Montgomery Halls previously used by the Education and Music Departments to be opened up. The classrooms currently being used by Education in Goodpaster hall will be converted into labs, and Montgomery Hall’s old music classrooms will be renovated to create space for the Art, Theater, and Media Studies departments. The key downside, Schlesinger says, is “the potential disruptive effect of construction” and, for some students, “extended walks around the former athletic field.”
For those concerned that the work being done may have been disrupted by the coronavirus, Schlesinger assures that the Holder Construction Company has “taken significant steps to implement best practices with its subcontractors in its effort to prevent any effects on the project.” In March, one construction team had to quarantine, but the company had another team take over in the meantime. Because of this, there have been no major delays, and the buildings are still set to open in the Fall of 2022 as planned.