by Cynthia Tintorri
March 25, 2014
What should have been a temperate early-spring day actually included a forecast of snow, and the only things blooming were potted African violets and hydrangeas inside a heated tent. Nevertheless, a crowd of enthusiastic well-wishers and dignitaries turned out on March 25 as Northampton Community College broke ground for a new residence hall at the Main Campus in Bethlehem Township.
The new facility will add accommodations for an additional 300 students to NCC's existing residence hall and apartments, which house about 260 students. Northampton is the only community college in Pennsylvania to provide on-campus housing.
Designed to blend in with the surroundings, the new two-story structure will consist of two wings that will connect to the existing residence hall, creating a quadrangle with a food court, full-service cafeteria, outdoor patio and courtyard with space for activities such as volleyball.
The addition is expected to open in Fall 2015. Designed by USA Architect, it is being developed and built by J.G. Petrucci Company at an estimated cost of $17 million, funded by the College's Foundation.
NCC President Mark Erickson welcomed guests to the groundbreaking, calling it -- "a pause to celebrate and throw a little dirt!" He thanked staff, board and Foundation members, as well as Bethlehem Township's leadership. "We couldn't do this without our wonderful partnership with them. This residence hall will change the lives of students and the community."
Mardi McGuire-Closson, vice president of Student Affairs, spoke about the "hundreds and hundreds" of students who have had to be turned away because of the lack of housing for them on campus, underscoring the need for the new residence hall. "Having on-campus housing has positively impacted our student life and athletics programs, and allowed us to welcome international students."
One of those international students, Katlane Seema of South Africa, said she has called the residence hall "home" for as long as she's been at NCC. "It's allowed me to learn about American culture, and to teach people about my culture." A construction management major, Seema drew applause when she revealed that she will be interning with J.G. Petrucci during the building project. She thanked NCC for the advantages and opportunities it has provided to her and students like her. "NCC doesn't just talk theoretically about diversity -- they make it possible by bringing the world to you."
After the speakers' remarks, representatives from the College, including mascot Sam Spartan, donned hard hats and dug ceremonial shovelsful of dirt, marking the beginning of what is planned to be a 14-month construction project.
To review Northampton Community College's guidelines for public comments, click here