College unveils student center

Published 6:55 am Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bainbridge College officials recently released architect renderings of the new student life center at the main campus and the expansion of the Blakely building.

College President Tom Wilkerson said the college hopes to break ground on the 70,000- to 75,000-square-foot student life center in August following the sale of the bonds in July.

It is hoped that the building will be ready in approximately 14 months.

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“We are right exciting about this because we are actually going to break ground for it this year,” Wilkerson said. He said one road block remains, which is a scheduled meeting with Board of Regents staff on April 1 to receive their final approval on the proposed plans.

“To have a building like this versus the current student life center is like you died and went to heaven, I think,” Wilkerson said.

The two-story building will be built across the street from the Continuing Education Building and the swimming pool.

The Southwest Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center and an academic resource center, which are both wooden structures, will be relocated or removed, Wilkerson said.

In fact, Natalie Higley, vice president of business affairs, said the center will be pushed up toward the center of the campus and create more green space where the stage is currently located.

The new student life center will include a 2,500-seat gym with a full basketball court and two cross courts. A suspended walking track will circle the courts. The gym will also have a fitness center that will have room for 40 cardiovascular machines and 40 weight-training stations. The center will also include a 140-seat dining room with a food court, two classrooms, office space, a computer lab with 75 computer stations and an expanded bookstore.

This building is being funded through the $125 student fees.

With the Blakely expansion and the new student life center, the projects are in the $20 million range.

“What I hope … is that having a $20 million building project in Decatur County is going to help the unemployment right now, which is huge right now,” Wilkerson said.

The center will have the same type brick as currently on all the existing buildings.

“This will help tie this building back with what we have currently so that it doesn’t stick out; like it doesn’t fit,” said Leonard Dean, director of plant operations. “This building will be far simpler. It doesn’t have the complexity of the Kirbo Center by no means had.”

The college bid out a firm to manage the project, which is Jones, Lang, LaSalle of Atlanta. The second bid was for the architects, which was Hasting-Chivetta from St. Louis, Mo., which has built similar projects in 37 states for the past 20 to 30 years, Wilkerson said.

The final bid was for the construction firm, which out of 22 to 23 bids, the low bid came from Allstate Construction of Tallahassee, Fla., the same firm that reworked the Kirbo Center and is the contractor for the new Bainbridge High School.

“We are delighted because of the wonderful Kirbo experience we had with them and the county schools are having a wonderful experience with them at the new high school,” said Wilkerson of Allstate Construction.

The area where the tennis courts is currently is being eyed for the proposed academic building, which could become a two- to three-story building. Wilkerson said the planning money for that building will be available from the state in 2010.

Blakely building

The Blakely campus, which has more than 800 students, is basically one 36,000-square-foot building, and approximately 11,000 square feet will be added to the back of the building.

The old library will be converted into a walkway, which will lead to the expansion that will include a new library, lounge with a snack bar, game room, computer labs, and fitness center with locker rooms.

A trailer that serves as office space will be removed, and approximately 150 parking spaces will be added in that area.

The ground breaking for this approximately $2 million building will be later than Bainbridge’s student life center, but its expected completion date will be quicker than Bainbridge center’s 14-month time frame.