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Construction on Gainesville Campus expansion nears completion

Renovations on Gainesville Campus expansion project are almost ready for furniture and equipment.

Nearly 18 months ago, the University of North Georgia (UNG) officially took ownership of the property that formerly housed Lanier Technical College. Now, the renovations on Gainesville Campus expansion project are almost ready for furniture and equipment.

"We are about 90% complete, but the last 10% takes time," said Bill Moody, director of facilities and operations on UNG's Cumming, Gainesville and Oconee campuses.

UNG and contractor Carroll Daniel Construction Co. have worked diligently to renovate the buildings to accommodate five departments, one institutional service department, and one student services center. Nearly a year later, progress is visible with more work starting on the exterior of the buildings as the indoor renovations draw to a close.

The first building to be renovated was for Student Health Services, which opened Jan. 13, 2020. The second facility was the Film and Digital Media Building. Moody said it is an almost finished product.

A handful of faculty and staff from the Department of Communication, Media & Journalism (CMJ) recently toured it to see the new amenities. The new building features three sound stages with the largest measuring about 2,500 square feet, a writer's room, three dressing rooms (one male, one female, and one gender-neutral), two tiered theater-seating classrooms, a computer lab and two private editing rooms, one color-grading and sound mixing room, one makeup room, and a craft services room.

Seeing the space made CMJ faculty and staff practically giddy.

"Walking through the building was a genuine thrill," said Dr. Jeff Marker, head of the CMJ department. "We have planned for years, and seeing it so close to fruition is quite something. This wasn't the first time I toured the building, but this is the first time it seemed real because it is so near completion."

The Health Sciences Building is also close to completion. It will house Information Technology (IT) and the Department of Nursing. Both are located in various buildings across campus. The new facility will put their faculty and staff under one roof.

"The nurses will have plenty of room to move and grow their program," Moody said, indicating the recommendation for social distancing and need for more nurses driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, the nursing department's simulation lab and Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) classrooms will have more space. Doors to the nursing classrooms also were designed to allow a hospital bed to pass through.

The Health Sciences Building will also feature a food court with plenty of seating.

"We will also have outdoor seating with tables and benches between the Health Sciences Building and the Arts and Technology Building," Moody said.

The Arts and Technology Building will supply classrooms and office space for the Institute of Environmental & Spatial Analysis, the Office of Professional and Continuing Education, and the Department of Visual Arts.

"This building was just a long corridor with classrooms off of it," Moody said. "We divided it up and installed study and lounge spaces for students."

All of the renovated buildings will provide students more spaces to study similar to the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building. The buildings will also have lobbies and designated entrance areas.

"We wanted it to look more inviting," Moody said. "And we wanted plenty of places for students to sit."

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