New buildings appear like magic at Elon

About six or so years ago — back when my spouse, the lovely and talented Roselee Papandrea, first started working at Elon University — I began to notice something that hadn’t occurred to me before. Every building on the Elon campus looks like, or very much like, it has been there for decades. Everything matches, right down to the brick and mortar construction or the brick walkways. The grass is a lush green. The landscaping immaculate.

I first noticed this on one of my early visits to the Moseley Center in the newer section of campus. it didn’t exist when I left the area in 1992 but by the time I returned in 2007 it looked like it had always been there. I looked to the right of the Moseley Center and noticed the beginnings of a construction site.. It was dirty and messy like all building projects are. Not too many months later a beautiful building with a manicured lawn had replaced it. “What is that?” I asked Roselee. “That’s Inman Admissions Welcome Center,” she replied. Unsure if my eyes had deceived me on the previous visit I asked, “How long has it been there?” “Oh, about a month,” she said.

It was like magic.

I witnessed this same scenario play out over the next few years — at the Numen Lumen Pavilion, Schar Hall and Steers Pavilion. Amazing transformations take place seemingly overnight. It’s a testament to Elon’s excellent planning, consistent and quality contractors, a special type of brick known as “Elon brick” produced by Pine Hall Brick,  and the incredible work done year-round by the Landscaping and Grounds as well as Physical Plant staff. The Times-News and reporter Jessica Williams spotlighted the Landscaping and Ground division in a recent story leading up to the start of school.  It’s inspiring how it all comes together, but what is truly fascinating is watching it unfold — especially this summer. During the last month six different campus projects are nearing completion. Five will be ready by the time move-in day for first-year students  arrives on Friday, Aug. 24. For returning students there will be some nice surprises.

The millions of dollars in construction projects include the much-publicized Schar Center, which was used for the first time at a campus event for the Planning Week welcome and awarding of Elon Medallions on Monday. Faculty and staff sat in roomy comfort on one side of the 5,000-plus seat facility, which will be home to Elon men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and dozens of special events, including the inauguration of new president Dr. Connie Book. It’s already the most widely toured building on campus to date. Visitors started walking through it a few weeks ago and the President Book held the annual community impact breakfast there for community leaders in Alamance County. I was there for my longtime friend and mentor Don Bolden’s first and only visit to the Schar Center in June before he passed away in August.

While the Schar Center is the most prominent new addition for the fall, others of great significance will be open on Friday. None looked all that close to being ready as July headed toward August. That’s where the magic comes in. Returning students will be greeted by Richard W. Sankey Hall, an addition to the Love School of Business and beginning phase of a visionary innovation, science and entrepreneurial hub that will connect one day to the McMichael Science Center and what is now Elon Elementary School. The 30,000 square-foot building is on the opposite end of the McMichael parking lot from the McMichael Science Center. In photo four below it appears the landscaping and sod is complete and it looks ready for classes to start.

Across the street from Sankey Hall is the impressive Koenigsberger Learning Center. The addition to Belk Library, again, was a construction site just a few weeks ago. Wednesday I took a tour inside with engineering professor Scott Wolter. The sod was placed last week and the landscaping leading to the door is finished. It’s ready inside for students who wish to take advantage of services such as academic advising or tutoring. It’s also where students with mobility, visual, learning or other disabilities can use special software or other programs. The final photo in this group was taken from a second floor study area, which offers a nice view of the Inman Admissions Welcome Center.

Beside the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center on Haggard Avenue, is the East Neighborhood. Three residence halls make up this new learning and living community at Elon with a focus on civic engagement. It was fun watching these go up this summer.

Near my office in Johnston Hall a new gym was constructed and is ready for the fall. It’s on Antioch across the street from the Golf Center and near Health Services. This facility offers gym access to south campus as well as the historic campus. Also in the Historic Neighborhood, the renovations to McEwen Dining Hall should be finished in late September. And then there is this: The new entry into the Academic Village, which is now named for President Emeritus Leo Lambert.

Dr. Book sums up the new construction in this cool video by my friends at University Communications — Aaron Glancy and Chris Hedin.

And as Dr. Book points out, there will be some coming attractions students are sure to notice for the future. Initial clearing has begun on the LaRose Student Commons in the Historic Neighborhood, which claimed some stately oak trees. And work will start soon at the planned Inn at Elon University.

It’ll be interesting to see how it all comes together. It always is.

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