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Photo by: Isaac Babcock - The estimated $27.5 million renovation of the new Bush Science Center at Rollins College is set to begin in March/April 2012.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 5 years ago

The year of renovations at Rollins

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Rollins expands
by: Sarah Wilson Staff Writer

The estimated $27.5 million renovation of the new Bush Science Center at Rollins College is set to begin in March/April 2012, with completion aimed at July of 2013. Construction of the recently approved hotel and lounge on Rollins’ campus, the Alfond Inn, is preliminarily set to begin over the summer.

From self-realizations to resounding resolutions, the new year is a time to look back at what you’ve accomplished, as well as look forward to what’s to come.

Scott Bitikofer said he goes through a similar reflection process as campus facilities director at Rollins College. With numerous multi-million dollar projects in the works, Bitikofer said 2012 will be a year of large facilities renovations and reinvestments in the quality of education provided at Rollins.

“We’ve got so much going on this year it’s hard to keep track,” Bitikofer said. “From the Science Center renovations to the new inn at Rollins, it’s going to be a big year.”

Bitikofer said the estimated $27.5 million renovations of the Bush Science Center, the campus’ largest academic building, will begin in March or April and will include gutting the entire interior structure and adding an additional 10,000 square feet to the building.

That, along with construction of Alfond Inn and various other site works around campus, he said, will help refine and accentuate Rollins College as an institution in liberal arts higher education and as a campus community.

Mayor Ken Bradley welcomed the renovations at the school, saying that he hoped it would strengthen the campus’ accessibility and connection with the city.

“It’s a continued connection,” Bradley said. “A physical connection in multiple ways makes abundant sense.”

Old meets new

On a campus founded more than 125 years ago, Bitikofer said the planning of all major construction projects requires special care in the meshing the old with the new. So when it came to planning the renovations of the Bush Science Center, built in 1968, he said he helped oversee that the new building would blend.

“We decided early on that trying to save the old walls would be more work than building new ones,” he said. “… But I think the new building will look more like a Rollins building than even the old one did.”

With plans for tall columns, sweeping archways and the traditional outward stucco finish, Bitikofer said he’s confident the building will reflect the architectural charm of Rollins’ campus.

While traditional on the outside, Bitikofer said the inside of the center will be updated with modernized facilities to match and further the quality interdisciplinary education Rollins hopes to provide its students. The only interior elements not being remodeled during the renovations are the auditorium and the high-tech classroom.

“It has really been designed to build on the best parts of going to a small, liberal arts college,” he said, “particularly in building close professor-student relationships.”

In addition to updating the building’s three current science labs to current technological and safety standards, the new structure will feature new “collaborative spaces” where students can gather with or without their professors to study and go over material.

Bitikofer also said the building will no longer have specific floors for each science subject. Instead the studies will be dispersed throughout to encourage more interdisciplinary curiosity.

“The building is designed to build connects between different areas of study and not clustering by department,” he said. “We want to promote interdisciplinary work in the building.”

The new Bush Science Center also is designed to shed new light on the study of sciences at Rollins College, both literally and figuratively.

The current building, Bitikofer said, has only 20 windows on its entire three-story structure. Once renovated, the building will have more than 100.

“We went into designing the building with two main prerequisites from the faculty: more windows and a roof that didn’t leak,” he said.

As the head of facilities management, Bitikofer said he paid special care in implementing more environmentally sustainable features in the new building — hoping it will earn Silver LEED accreditation. This includes an “energy wheel” 16 feet in diameter that will recapture energy used to dehumidify and cool air coming in and out of the building, as well as a 40-foot-by-12-foot water harvesting cistern to collect rain water for use in sanitary purposes.

“The state of the current science center sends a message that science isn’t as important to Rollins as maybe other subjects; I hope that this all will change that,” he said. “… We’re not so proud of the building’s before, but very excited about the after.”

Bradley said that he expects Rollins’ expansion to help the school and the community improve together.

“When Rollins invests it brings jobs into the community,” Bradley said. “And when Rollins does it, they do it right.”

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