Construction continues on Queens campus

The opening of renovated Carnesecca Arena and the unveiling of the revamped library in recent weeks close the book on two of the main construction projects from this summer.

“We had a very busy summer with those projects,” said Ibi Yolas, executive director of Design and Construction. “Along with the St. Vincent project, the townhouses, and we’re still building the UC/AC [University Center/Academic Center], there was a lot of work going on during the summer so it is a great thing these projects are finished.”

Yolas said some of the main changes in Carnesecca Arena occurred in the lobby area and the court.

The ticket concierge has also been added to the side of the Arena, where tickets for all St. John’s sporting events occurring on campus can be purchased instead of just for ones going on in the Arena.

“By placing the ticket stand outside, we have helped make sure the lobby area doesn’t get too crowded with people when events are going on,” said Yolas.

She said, however, there are even more renovations to the structure named after St. John’s most winningest men’s basketball head coach.

“We have $3 million allocated to continue working on the arena, hopefully next year,” she said. “[During that time], we’re going to work on the ceiling and the lighting [on the court] and to improve the sound system and the scoreboards.”

Some students said they approve of the changes to the Arena.

“[Carnesseca] looks very nice and more modern than before,” said sophomore Ted Kristikos. “It even seems bigger than before.”

Tim Kang, a junior, said he felt all the construction during the beginning of the semester was “a nuisence to get around,” but said he was most impressed with what he sees as soon as he steps into the Arena.

“The displays in the lobby and interior aesthetically overall are really nice,” he said.

Other projects occurring on campus include the entrance to Kaiser Stadium being redone, the first step, Yolas said, in renovating the area around the baseball field to resemble more of a “sports plaza or city park.”

The basement of Bent Hall is also going to house the bursar’s and financial aid offices, a move Yolas hopes will be more of a benefit to students.

“We’ve heard from students that they are often given the ‘runaround’ from constantly going from place to place to straighten out issues,” she said. “So the idea is to have everything in one place to make things more convenient.”

Yolas said the move should be completed by the end of December.

The area behind St. Vincent Hall has also been receiving a makeover in recent weeks.

“When the priests moved to their new place of residence, we found the backyard area to be somewhat rundown,” Yolas said.

“Since we moved students to St. Vincent Hall, we wanted to develop that area to make it more user-friendly. So we’ve added we put in a new fireplace, grill, and some chairs to make it a more social area.”

Yolas said those changes should be finished by Thanksgiving.
The new UC/AC is currently being outfitted with fireproof materials, is “25-30 percent” complete and is still on track for a August 2009 completion, according to Yolas.

She also said that once the UC/AC is up and running, the plan is to keep the old UC and use the building to eventually house the Fine Arts department.

The UC/AC will be three stories high, including a basement and sub-basement, and among the new building’s features will be 14 additional classrooms, a central lounge area for students, a coffee house café, game lounge, new offices for student organizations and dining hall.

Overall, Yolas said she hopes once all the construction has finished, students will appreciate the new look of the Queens campus.

“I hope these changes bring student satisfaction,” she said.
“We knew for a long time that as the campus continues to change into more of a resident University, that students don’t have enough social areas to go to and some of our existing facilities are very old.”

Senior Jason Crispin said he thinks the long months of construction will be worth it in the long run.

“I think it’s good that they’re building things on campus,” he said.

“It’s beneficial for our academics and it’s going to make the school a better environment.”