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Northeast looks to enhance academic space on its Norfolk campus

Northeast looks to enhance academic space on its Norfolk campus

NORFOLK, Neb. – In 2017, a Master Site and Facilities Plan was developed for Northeast Community College to provide a collection of background information, an analysis of key issues and a list of potential projects that could be considered over the next decade. Two of the oldest buildings on the Norfolk campus were identified in the report as needing upgrades in the foreseeable future to continue to effectively serve all learners and the college community.

To allow for the creation of space that will improve learning environments for students and for the flexibility for multiple program uses, the College is moving forward with replacing the Maclay building and will renovate the former Library/Resource Center, both of which sit in the academic core of campus. The Board of Governors gave final approval to the project at its monthly meeting on Tuesday. 

Scott Gray, vice president of administrative services, said the Maclay Replacement Project will strengthen the academic core by bringing together complementary fields of study and create contemporary learning environments that can adapt to multiple styles of teaching and learning. 
“After in-depth studies of the existing Maclay building structure, it was determined by Northeast and its architects that a complete demolition and replacement of the building in the existing site location will optimize those efficiencies and be the best utilization for College resources,” Gray said. 

The 49,000 square foot Maclay Building, named after Northeast’s first president, F. Don Maclay, was constructed in 1971. It has served as a hub for instructional programs since the founding of Northeast Nebraska Technical Community College and was formerly known as the Maclay Administration Building. Constructed in 1972, the 8,200 square foot former Library/Resource Center is a single-story building that was initially built to serve library resources. When Union 73 (student center) opened in 2019, the existing library and Service Center functions moved to new locations in that building. 

Gray said due to its over 50-plus years of service, the Maclay building has numerous concerns that include poor mechanical and electrical systems, confusing traffic patterns at entrance points and throughout the building, limited efficiency in the design, and the need for fire detection and suppression systems. He said the project team and a steering committee of Northeast representatives discussed and analyzed the option of renovating the existing Maclay Building. 

“Even with various facility renovations over the years, the College continues to have significant challenges with the existing facility infrastructure in support of program needs. The most significant challenge within the Maclay building is the existing structure,” he said. “A figure-eight structural column grid and low structural roof deck, make a major renovation extremely challenging and costly. After two extensive structural studies, the College has determined that a complete renovation is in the best interest for future planning in the Maclay Building.”

The improved efficiency of a new Maclay will allow more programs to be located in the building. Academic programs will include accounting, administrative professional, business, English, and Health Information Management Systems. It will also house Academic Outreach, Adult Education, Center for Teaching and Learning, the administrative offices of the Educational Services Division, and workforce development. 

A complete interior renovation of the Library/Resource Center will make it possible for specialized arts program space to be relocated out of the Maclay building and the nearby Weller building. These include digital media, graphic design and visual arts programs.
The $25 million project will be paid entirely with funds from the College’s capital fund budget. Dr. Leah Barrett, president, said the Board of Governors has wisely invested in this project.

“Once the Master Site and Facility Plan confirmed the need to replace the Maclay building and renovate the former Library building, the Board of Governors identified dollars in the capital fund budget for five years to cover the cost for these improvements,” she said. “It is anticipated that the new Maclay building will be more efficient to maintain than the current building. Therefore, it is projected there will be no increase to the ongoing operation and maintenance costs to the College.”

The Nebraska Coordinating for Commission for Postsecondary Education (CCPE) also sees the value in the new facilities to meet the needs of students. It voted 8-0 to approve the plan. 

At this time, the demolition of Maclay and the construction of a new building is scheduled to begin in late Summer 2023, with classes beginning in the new facility in Fall 2025. The former Library/Resource Center remodel construction is scheduled to begin in Fall 2025, with completion in Summer 2026. 

“The Maclay Building and the former Library/Resource Center have served Northeast well, but their age has been a challenge in terms of maintenance and supporting today’s learning environment for Northeast students,” Barrett said. “I want to thank the many faculty and staff who have provided input into developing this plan. Replacing the Maclay Building will increase student access, maximize student engagement, improve student learning and collaboration and increase intentional overlap in the flexible use of space.” 


PHOTO ID: Architectural drawing of a new Maclay building on the Northeast Community College campus in Norfolk.