Work In Progress Construction updates.
» Doors to Kenneth E. Swain Hall set to swing open
A lot has changed in science and at Coastal Carolina University since the R. Cathcart Smith Science Center was constructed in 1980. The 33-year-old building is now considered insufficient for coursework and research in areas such as biology, chemistry and physics. Labs are located in converted classrooms in a building with an outdated infrastructure. Having the largest college at CCU housed in three separate buildings also hinders interdisciplinary research.
“Smith has been a good home for the biology department,” says Karen Aguirre, chair of biology at CCU, “but I think we’ve outgrown it.”
The groundbreaking for the all-new, $15 million, 40,000-square-foot Kenneth E. Swain Science Hall was on Feb. 20, 2009. Four years later, on Aug. 23, the new structure will officially open. Michael Roberts, dean of CCU’s College of Science, says that during the planning stage, faculty from the various science departments met with contractors to discuss “everything that will make their dreams come true.” One of those faculty members was Louis Keiner, associate professor of chemistry and physics.
“My job was to learn what faculty and students wanted out of the building in two main areas,” says Keiner. “What type of space would be best for learning and what will help teach more effectively? After hearing from faculty and staff, the contractors worked to integrate their ideas.”
Smart classrooms, similar to the rooms in the Bryan Information Commons, were designed for the building, as well as seating nooks at the ends of the hallways, with bay windows giving expansive views of campus.
“Students requested more study space, so we ensured there was more informal space in Swain that is inviting and comfortable, making it more of a home for them outside of classes,” says Keiner.
“Swain Hall will contain less general class space and more lab space than Smith Hall,” he says. “Chemists, for example, are receiving a state-of-the-art research space. This will certainly benefit students also, so expect a boost in undergraduate research.”
Aguirre relishes the opportunity for more student-based research and alliances between the sciences. And with the similar disciplines in the same building, she is “looking forward to some fruitful collaborations.”
Biology, chemistry, environmental science and health promotion are moving into Swain Hall. The Swain Scholars are relocating from Kearns to their own space on the first floor. On the second floor, there is an office for graduate students in the Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies program. In all, Swain Hall contains approximately 30 faculty offices and some 20 science laboratories.
“This state-of-the-art facility is so beautiful, “says Aguirre. “It will be an important tool in attracting and recruiting new students, as well as training current ones.”
Swain Hall is a giant leap from Smith Hall. Keycard access will be necessary to enter most of the labs, such as the herbarium, located on the first floor. On the second floor there is a walk-in cold storage room for experiments where the temperature must be maintained at a certain degree. The second floor is also home of the reptile room.
The labs come loaded with top-notch equipment, such as sterile tissue culture areas for experimentation; a dozen water polishing units, capable of extracting all impurities from liquids; and a “fly-pushing” room, which will be used for circadian sleep cycle studies.
Lab spaces will handle every imaginable discipline, such as genetics, cellular/microbiology and organic/biochemistry. The collaborative classrooms come complete with whiteboard cabinet doors, ample storage space and demonstration tables.
“The demo tables are an important new addition,” says Aguirre. “Some of the existing biology labs didn’t include them, so we ran demos on a student’s table, leading to fewer seats.”
The Smith Science Center has two labs to handle microbiology, cell biology, plant classes, genetics, immunology and virology. The Swain building doubles that capacity, providing more open and available classes/labs while solving the student seating issue.
Swain Hall won’t be limited to the sciences, however. On the first floor, through the main entrance, is room 121. This lecture class will serve all areas of study, from 101 to 400 level classes. Roberts says this is intentional so that students of all majors at CCU will be able to enjoy the new building.
Some of those “fruitful collaborations” Aguirre is looking forward to may also benefit surrounding communities of Conway and Myrtle Beach.
Sharon Thompson, faculty director for the Swain Scholars, says the scholars will gain their own space to work on projects, such as community health outreach programs. An area for wellness and general health screenings will be available to CCU students as well as members of the community.
According to John Yannessa, chair of health promotions at CCU, diabetes screenings, blood pressure tests and overall health examinations are programs that could be offered to residents of Horry County.
“We are excited,” says Yannessa. “The new space will allow us to create programs that are designed for community outreach.”
The new building is named for Kenneth E. Swain. A Myrtle Beach resident for most of his life, Swain made a substantial gift in 2008, making the new science hall possible. Pharmacist, realtor, environmentalist and breeder of award-winning Pomeranians are just a few of his titles. Before pledging to provide CCU with a new science building, he set up the Swain Scholars program, which awards four juniors and four seniors with an annual $5,000 scholarship for research and outreach projects related to health sciences. According to Roberts, Swain visits the building about every two weeks and has been impressed with what he has seen.
“He’s most amazed by the difference between the new building and the old one,” says Roberts. “The faculty has been extremely happy with what they have seen so far. This building will be a gem on the Coastal campus.”
» New traffic light installed on S.C. 544
A new traffic light on S.C. 544 at Founders Drive has been installed and is operational.
The lights have been in flash mode since Tuesday, and the left turn lane has been marked, according to Stacie Bowie, CCU vice president and chief financial officer.
The S.C. Department of Transportation installed a stop and go traffic signal at the site, based on its vehicular and pedestrian counts and CCU’s projections for future growth in the area.
» There's a new pond on campus
The big hole with water on the corner of University Boulevard and Founders Drive will be a retention pond to help stormwater retention, according to Sandy Williams, director of facilities planning and management.
The pond will have a water feature and will be fully landscaped, Williams said. It will be significant for the new student housiing construction in that area.