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Modern touches coming to Citadel

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Modern touches coming to Citadel

The Citadel plans to construct a new building for Capers Hall behind the existing building, which dates back to 1942.

It's been more than 20 years since The Citadel last built a new academic building, but the military college's landscape is poised to change with an ambitious plan to construct two new buildings over the next several years.

The college is planning to replace Capers Hall, which is just off Moultrie Street on the downtown Charleston campus, with a new, modern building. And the military college's School of Business is getting its own dedicated facility instead of sharing space with other departments inside Bond Hall.

The associate vice president for facilities and engineering, Col. Benjamin Wham, said the college conducted an engineering study to evaluate whether it would be cost effective to renovate the 73-year-old Capers Hall. That study revealed it would cost $8.3 million just to bring the building up to modern building codes. And that doesn't include modernizing and reconfiguring the space.

“The cost to renovate the building with everything involved would be almost equal to the price of building a new building,” Wham said.

Vice President of Operations Col. Tom Philipkosky said early estimates put the cost of a new Capers Hall between $30 million and $50 million.

The new School of Business, which currently takes up around 15,000 square feet inside Bond Hall, is estimated to cost $15 million to $25 million.

The construction projects will mean a ballet of moving departments, with the School of Education moving from Capers to Bond Hall, located across from the iconic Summerall Field, after the new School of Business opens in its new location off Hagood Avenue.

The new Capers Hall, which will be constructed behind the existing building, will house the college's School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The last time the college built a new facility for academics was in 1991, when Grimsley Hall opened as the new building for physics and electrical engineering.

“I think it will be pretty neat to see a new building on campus,” said Cadet James McManus.

McManus, who spends a few days a week inside Capers Hall as an education major, jokingly described the dated interior of the 1940s-era building as “gorgeous.”

Hallways in the building are adorned with dated ceramic water fountains with mid-century green-and-tan speckled tile floors. Mint-green tiles drape the walls of the second-floor hall and some of the building's stairways.

“It's a lovely green color,” the college junior said with a laugh.

The new buildings, McManus said, are a “great motivator” for cadets as a sign of progress at the college.

“It really shows that the school cares about the cadets,” he said. “They're investing money in something we use every day.”

William Trumbull, dean of the School of Business, said his school is hampered by dated classroom space, which he said limits the use of new technology and experiences for students.

The business program is the largest in the college's day program, which primarily serves cadets. The school's MBA program is the largest graduate program at The Citadel.

“It will be more than just a bunch of offices and classrooms,” Trumbull said of the new business school. “The idea is to build in flexibility so we can do all sorts of different things.”

Trumbull envisions “innovation labs” stocked with 3-D printers, scanners and robotics, and rooms that facilitate business simulations and group projects.

The biggest benefit of the school having its own facility, Trumbull said, is that it will give the school it's own identity.

“It's important for professional schools like a school of business to have a sense of place — a building that looks like this is a place you do business,” he said.

College officials began sharing details of the construction plans in February when they notified faculty and staff living in housing along Hagood Avenue that the college would be tearing down those buildings to make room for the new business school.

In all, 18 apartments in four buildings will be demolished.

As the college was evaluating ways to expand on its largely landlocked campus, Philipkosky said officials decided that maintaining the aging housing was not a priority, saying the apartments “need more love and attention than we can give them.”

“While it's nice to be able to offer that, it's not a requirement,” he said.

Affected faculty and staff will be given nearly a year to find other housing arrangements before demolition begins in March.

The military college plans to build the School of Business entirely with donor dollars raised through The Citadel Foundation. The college will request financial assistance from the state for the construction of Capers Hall.

Wham said construction on the new School of Business likely would not begin until late 2017, although Philipkosky said he hopes to accelerate that project so the college can begin construction on Capers Hall in 2018.

“What we want to be is ready ... so that when the funding is available we're ready to go,” Philipkosky said.

Reach Amanda Kerr at 937-5546 or on Twitter at @PCAmandaKerr.

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