Erin Mistry’s back always aches after sitting in old Norman Hall’s “ancient” plastic chairs for three-hour long classes.
In the dimly lit and musty classrooms, it’s hard to concentrate.
“You want to be comfortable when learning,” she said.
The 44-year-old education doctoral student said she appreciates the building’s nostalgia but is ready for its modern updates. The two-part $29 million renovation started with the Education Library in December, said the education associate dean of academic affairs, Thomas Dana. The second phase, old Norman Hall, will start in May when the first ends. It is expected to be completed in August 2019.
The old Norman building will be gutted and rebuilt with modern offices, classrooms and research labs, said Dana, who helps oversee the renovations. It will include new windows, air conditioning, heating systems and plumbing. On the ground level, a Starbucks will be added.
“We have very useless classrooms,” Dana said. “Most of our building is just not suited for the kind of learning and teaching we do nowadays.”
Norman Hall has had problems with mold, poor air conditioning and overflowing toilets, Dana said. The 1932 building is now out of date.
The college has wanted to renovate the building for about 20 years but had trouble finding funding, Dana said. In 2016 the Florida Legislature gave $14.1 million to start the project and appropriated the rest the following year.
The building will be more adapt to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Dana said. This will include new restrooms, ramps and signage to make the building easier to navigate.
During the construction of old Norman, several large rooms in new Norman will be converted into smaller offices, and staff will also share offices, Dana said. Classes will be held in other buildings on campus.
Rachael Elrod, head of the Education Library, said the library has not been renovated extensively for 38 years, other than adding four study rooms in the summer of 2016.
Some improvements to the library include better lightning, new furniture, a computer lab, more electrical outlets, new security gates and two additional study rooms, Elrod said. In addition, the Education Library will also include two ADA fitted restrooms as well as an ADA circulation desk.
Elrod said while the library is closed for construction, its course reserves and journals are available for checkout at Library West. All other Education Library materials are in an off-site storage facility and are unavailable to be checked out.
“I’m really looking forward to opening the doors again to the library and welcoming students into this beautiful new space,” Elrod said.