New nursing school to be completed in ’08

Ally Taylor

St. Mary’s Hall has been traditionally known for its multipurpose facilities. Home to a dining hall, Second Storey, residence housing, choral groups, the Villanova Band, a gym, the pool, communication classrooms, the auditorium and the chapel, it attracts students to everything from Monday morning classes to Sunday afternoon brunch to Friday night’s student theater performance. Situated between dance rehearsals and cheerleading tryouts in the lobby and dirty clothes in the laundry room is the College of Nursing.

Since 1972, the College of Nursing has shared its facilities with various organizations on campus, but last Friday the planning committee and Dean Louise Fitzpatrick revealed the designs for a new College of Nursing building. The committee expects the building to be completed for the Fall ’08 semester.

“I still can’t believe it,” Fitzpatrick said in her opening statements to the crowd of nursing faculty, staff, select students and University administrators in St. Mary’s auditorium. “Maybe as the building goes up, it will be more real to me.”

According to the construction plans, the new building will be erected where the current softball field stands next to the Health Services Building. It will have four floors with the lowest level set partially underground. To do this, the land, which is currently situated downhill, will be raised so that the path to the building will be level with the road.

This lowest level was designed so that six large clinical practice labs with hospital equipment and related technology can be accommodated with the available wall space. In addition, simulation rooms and a nurses’ station will also be on this floor.

“Just as technology is important to the delivery of health care, it also has become an important influence on nursing education and student learning,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview later. “Using simulation and case studies in the college labs, students learn to make critical judgments that they carry forward into application in the actual clinical setting through their experiences in hospitals and clinics.”

Select nursing students, including Presidential Scholars and leaders of student organizations, were invited to the meeting, and some, including senior Jen Lanzo and junior Eileen Condon, agreed that the new labs were the most exciting feature of the new building, citing various specialty labs, like an Intensive Care Unit.

The second level of the building, the main entrance, will feature the College of Nursing’s administrative offices and Center for Nursing Research in one wing and in the other, a 200-seat lecture hall and a similarly sized auditorium. In addition, study rooms for undergraduate and graduate students will be provided.

A large glass-enclosed staircase in the rear of the building will bring students to the lower level to attend labs or up to the third floor, where a common area and Holy Grounds will allow students to relax and snack. Two 60-seat atriums, classrooms, seminar rooms and study areas for both graduate and undergraduate students will largely comprise this floor, according to the presentation.

The faculty offices and a faculty and staff lounge will be on the top floor which is not connected by the main staircase in order to give the faculty and staff a sense of privacy, according to the presentation.

An elevator and two additional staircases will reach this floor. Space in the building will also be allocated for nursing student organization activities.

Aside from the spatial restrictions that St. Mary’s places on the College of Nursing, members are excited to be located on Main Campus.

“We go to CEER or Bartley to study, but no one ever comes to St. Mary’s,” Lanzo said. “We’re so isolated.”

Fitzpatrick and University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., addressed the crowd after the presentation, both stressing this new building as beneficial to the entire campus.

“Nursing is joining the main campus and opening its doors to students from other colleges,” Donohue said.

In particular, separate doors will be placed near the entrance-level auditoriums so that special events can take place and extend outside onto the lawn, where there is enough room to place a tent.

“It’s a building for the whole campus,” Fitzpatrick said to the crowd. “When you see 200-seat rooms, they provide for many campus events.”

The new facilities and technology will also help the college compete with other schools, since it is already known nationally for its academic excellence, Fitzpatrick said.

Donohue and architect Jonathan M. Fishman, principal in chair of Richter Cornbrooks Gribble, Inc., mentioned that the College of Nursing building was designed so that a second building could be constructed on the tennis courts in the future if necessary. Donohue joked that this hypothetical building could be a performing arts center and that this was what sold him on the design. No plans currently exist to construct a second building, however.

He also acknowledged the softball team who, due to the construction of this building, will move. As a result, it too will receive a new facility across Lancaster Avenue from the stadium.

Some present at the meeting raised a variety of questions ranging from parking to the building materials. As of now, no set plan has been established to address the influx of traffic on Main Campus, but plans are under discussion.

One professor asked whether or not the windows will actually open and close, generating a sympathetic laugh from the crowd. Elise Pizzi’s office – which she shares with another professor – is currently located in the basement of St. Mary’s, and her only window is situated at the top of the room so that she and her colleague must stand on a table to open or close it. In the new building, every office will have a window.

An e-mail was drafted Monday night to inform the nursing students and general faculty and staff of the new building plans.

The College of Nursing first learned that it would receive new facilities in August 2005 from President Emeritus Rev. Edmund Dobbin, O.S.A.

Some of the earlier ideas were to move the college to a renovated Garey Hall or construct on top of the current SAC lot.

However, it would be costly to safely secure the building on top of the parking garage. The current site was finalized in June 2006 after Donohue took office. The Board of Trustees gave final approval to the plans on Dec. 12.

The presentation was conducted by engineer John Cacciola, director of the project’s engineering and construction from the University’s Facilities Management Office; Marilou Smith, project manager from the Facilities Management Office; Fishman; John DeFazio, project executive of Torcon, Inc., construction management company; and Torcon’s Amy Novak and Mike O’Neill, the project manager and superintendent who will be on site for the duration of the task.

In addition, the building will be LEED certified, meaning that certain environmentally-friendly factors are considered in the design and construction of the building, including efficient water usage, natural light usage and construction debris recycling, according to the presentation.

Utility work on site began on Jan. 8 in order to move electrical lines, and the final building permit will be secured in February so that construction can begin on March 1.

When the Board of Trustees arrives in early spring, a ceremonial groundbreaking will take place on April 10 that will be opened to all members of the Villanova community.

While future plans for the soon-to-be-empty spaces in St. Mary’s are unknown, the College of Nursing will be welcoming the Villanova community into its new facilities.

“We’re delighted to finally have a place to call home,” Fitzpatrick said.