“The ‘old man’ is overdue for a facelift,” said Bill Belcher, as he stared over the plans for the renovation of Bibb Graves Hall, the centerpiece of the Troy Campus, that lay on a hallway table.
After a brief pause, Belcher rethought his previous comment. “Well, this is going to be much more than just a facelift. While it will maintain its historic look from the front of the building, the inside of the building will basically be completely different.”
Belcher is the assistant to the dean of Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business, which is headquartered in Bibb Graves Hall. He has spent many hours studying artist renderings and architectural plans for the project and is convinced that a major transformation is coming.
Belcher is not alone in those feelings. Sven Aelterman, lecturer in information systems and a Web technician specialist who has worked closely with the renovation plans, nods his agreement as they both peruse the outstretched plans.
“This project will have a tremendous impact,” Aelterman said. “An increased capacity of useable space within the building will be one of the greatest impacts. It will also provide a tremendous upgrade in the image for the University as a whole and the Sorrell College of Business, in particular.”
The renovation, the first major upgrade of the building since 1979, began in June and will include the addition of computer labs, upgraded technology within classrooms and large open student lounge areas for relaxing between classes or studying. It also will include the addition of a wing along the back of the building, which will be home to the University’s Center for International Business and Economic Development (CIBED) and the Confucius Institute.
Dr. Don Hines, dean of the Sorrell College of Business, said the renovation will bring a world-class feel to the college.
“The College of Business clearly appreciates the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees for their support and efforts to bring us into a world-class setting. The designs and the plans do reflect a corporate headquarters environment of a global institution,” Hines said. “Troy University and the Sorrell College of Business is a global enterprise. The renovations will provide us with a good setting for the facutly and staff and will create an excellent learning environment for our students with all of the very latest technology being made available.”
Aelterman believes one of the most exciting aspects for the students will be the new lounge areas that will not only provide an environment for interaction but also areas for studying.
“The student lounge areas will provide comfortable seating areas and include areas of relative privacy where students can study,” Aelterman said. “It will be a very student-friendly area with flat panel displays on the wall – one of which will carry announcements while the other will be tuned to one of the cable television business networks. We are also looking into the prospect of including a stock ticker mounted along one wall.”
Once the project is completed in roughly two years, the changes to the building will be immediately evident as students and visitors enter the building’s front entrance. The elevator, which presently sits in the middle of the main lobby area, will be moved, opening the area up to a grand staircase, leading down into the Confucius Institute.
Student lounge areas will be located on either side of the staircase.
On the basement level at the bottom of the grand stairway will be the offices of the Confucius Institute. The Institute will also include a library and computer center, Aelterman noted, and it will have an outer exit that will lead into an outdoor garden and seating area, which will be home to the large bust of Confucius presented during the Institute’s grand opening celebration last fall.
Initial plans for the basement also call for the inclusion of offices for the College of Communication and Fine Art and the School of Communication.
The entrance to the CIBED offices will be located on the first floor behind the staircase. Along with center’s office space, plans call for a conference room, a research library and an auditorium capable of hosting both University and community functions.
The remainder of the first floor will include a large tiered classroom, two smaller classrooms and offices for the dean and faculty of the Sorrell College of Business. Two of those first-floor classrooms will be equipped with the latest distance-learning technology.
“The building will include all of the latest technology,” Belcher said, noting that the second floor will include one large computer lab and two smaller labs with a partition wall that can be moved to create one large lab.
The second floor will also include three tiered classrooms and five smaller classrooms and will be home to the Departments of Risk Management and Insurance and Business Programs, as well as other faculty offices.
The back hallway which will run between the existing building and the new wings will include an open area overlooking the student lounges on the first floor, Aelterman said.
Both Belcher and Aelterman agree that the renovation will leave the College of Business poised for continued growth.
“This will be visually stunning when it is completed,” Belcher said. “It will allow us to continue to grow and will provide a tremendous recruiting tool for the University and the Sorrell College of Business. This is a major step forward and I believe that once it is completed everyone will be pleasantly surprised.”
Aelterman nodded his agreement. “This project will make Bibb Graves a much better place for our current and future students, and it will provide a much better setting for alumni to come back to and visit. We hope that they will plan to do so when the project is completed.”
Ellis is a university relations coordinator and editor of Troy University Magazine.