RCTC Construction Tour

Nate Stoltman, executive director of communications, marketing, and external relations with Rochester Community and Technical College, shows a future courtyard during a tour of construction projects on Thursday. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Hey, you've done something to the place!

Returning Rochester Community and Technical students will notice it when school starts a month from now.

RCTC will have a new look, which comes courtesy of more than 30 construction and renovation projects undertaken this summer at a price tag of $26 million.

"It's going to improve the student experience. It's going to make it a better place to work and to learn," said Nate Stoltman, RCTC executive director of communications, marketing and external relations. 

A cacophony of drilling, hammer blows and roaring machinery  reverberated across campus during a tour of the construction zone.

The centerpiece of the campus makeover is the construction of a $23 million Memorial Hall attached to the college's main building. 

Nearly a decade in the planning, the new, 20,000-sq.-ft. wing will include new classrooms and faculty offices and is projected to be completed in December. The old, 1970 Plaza and Memorial Hall buildings will then be demolished. 

And while the biggest change, it's not the only one.

From a revamped main entrance to a new student lounge space and from new smart classrooms to new lecture and science spaces, RCTC will have a new feel to it, both cosmetically and substantially, for the 11,000 full-time and part-time students who attend the college. 

"What we did was made existing spaces significantly better. New furniture, new carpeting, new walls — all of that," Stoltman said.

Interestingly, when the multi-million projects are completed, the Rochester campus at the east end of town will occupy less building space than when work began. 

And that will be a good thing, Stoltman said. It will mean millions of dollars in savings on building maintenance and utility costs. And space utilization will improve. 

Right now, the campus has a space utilization of 47 percent, meaning less than half the campus is being used effectively, officials say. Once the two buildings are taken down and the renovations are complete, that number will jump to 74 percent. 

While there have been bigger, more expensive projects over the years, this is likely the most projects undertaken during one summer since RCTC moved to its east-end location in 1965, an official said. 

Stoltman said the upgrades will contribute to an improved student experience. Studies show that students who stay on campus tend to persist longer in their studies and do better academically. 

"We've investing millions of dollars to make this campus even better than it already is," he said.

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