The third floor of the Bateman Center at Raritan Valley Community College—which has remained unfinished since the building opened Feb 5, 2014—has design plans on the way as fundraising continues to proceed.
When the Batemen Center was constructed, the college did not have sufficient cash and pledges to finish the roughly 6,000-square-foot third floor. It has since been closed to students and used for storage.
Bathrooms were built and electrical wiring, a sprinkler system and a mechanical systems installed, but it will cost about $500,000 for everything else.
“It made sense to build out the shell of the building. It was cost effective to do it,” Ronnie Weyl, RVCC Foundation Director, said. “But we still need additional funds, so we are continuing to talk to donors.”
John Trojan, Vice President for Finance & Facilities, said the third floor will be used as a conference area, which is the plan the college always had for it.
“It’s geared to meeting the needs of faculty, students and administrators, but having flexible seating so that we’re not locked into any one type of space,” Trojan said. “We need flexibility so if students want a presentation, chairs can be set up like in a theatre, or movable couches where people can sit and congregate. We’re looking for lounge furniture that’s comfortable and isn’t so bulky.”
The biggest construction item is a mezzanine, which has a view over the roof of the Physical Education building. Other items include metal panels for the ceiling and natural bamboo flooring—the same material as on the second floor but in a lighter color.
In the front, next to the bathrooms, will be a glass conference room about 12-by-20 feet, a similar design to the Robert Wood Johnson Reading Room on the second floor. The college is also looking to put a large plasma TV near this area.
Every item, from the mezzanine to the entire floor itself, has potential for naming. This was done extensively on the first and second floor.
“It actually helps not to have a building that is completely finished because donors like to feel they are part of making something happen,” Weyl said. “Typically once a building opens, the capital campaign is over. But the third floor gives us that chance to pitch a new story. “
Weyl said the RVCC Foundation still has a lot more money to raise, and she is working to get a spike in fundraising next year. Trojan said the third floor will not be complete for a while.
The cost to construct the third floor is separate from the cost to pay back the $2.75 million bonds Hunterdon and Somerset County Freeholders lent to the college to construct the Bateman Center. This is half of the building’s $5.8 million cost (excluding the third floor)—the rest coming from the State of New Jersey under the Chapter 12 Community College Building Fund. (Under this fund, counties or eligible authorities issue bonds for new construction, and The State of New Jersey shares the debt service equally with the counties.)
“It was great the freeholders provided the money through the bond, because the College was able to open the Center and it has been used extensively over the past year,” Weyl said. “It would have been so sad to wait until all the money was in hand and then start building.”
The money the college uses to pay back freeholders comes from private-sector donations, which the RVCC Foundation works to get. The college has an 8-year agreement to pay back the freeholders. Payments are made twice a year.
The college has asked students what they want to see in the third floor. At “Meet the President and Executive Staff” on Feb. 5, Trojan said a space purely for leisure, such as a game room, would not be considered because the college made an agreement with donors that the space would be used for student educational or networking use.
The Bateman Center has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, the second highest rating for the construction of green buildings from the U.S. Green Building Council. Bathroom water in the Bateman Center comes from a rainwater capturing system, where rain flows from the roof, to a 4,000 gallon tank in the basement, to a series of pipes delivering it. Energy efficiency, locally sourced bricks, renewable flooring materials, the harvesting of daylight and recycling of construction debris also contributed to the Gold certification.
Fletcher Thompson was the architect and Niram Inc. was the construction company for the Bateman Center. Thompson worked on RVCC’s Whitman Science Center and projects at Brookdale, Sussex, and Middlesex Community Colleges.
Featured image caption:
A conceptual picture for the third floor of the Bateman Center.
This article was edited on May 27.