The building is proof that looks are sometimes deceiving. Outside, it looks like most other nearby buildings with its rectangular shape.
Inside, it has an unusual octagon-design. And that design is part of what provides students, staff and alumni with fond memories. Many students recall navigating their way around it during its varied uses from classrooms to administrative offices.
The first building on campus, predates the 1973 merger of Norfolk Junior College and Northeast Nebraska Technical College. In just a couple of years, the unmistakable one-level structure in the heart of campus will be replaced with a modern version equipped to handle modern technology and conveniences.
Leah Barrett, college president, said great care is being taken to repurpose many of the items from plants outside to air conditioning units.
“We know the Maclay Building not only has become a landmark but holds a special place in the hearts of our Northeast community,” Barrett said. “By repurposing it, we will help connect our past with the future.”
Brandon McLean, executive director of physical plant, is overseeing the physical aspects of saving items that can be repurposed. Then there are other items that must be removed before the building can be taken down, such as all the glass around the rooms. The flooring also cannot be salvaged, including carpet.
One of the most valuable items that can be salvaged are the many door handles, which feature a standard lock set used on campus, especially for meeting ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance.
“We use them pretty much everywhere,” McLean said. “They’re interchangeable with all our doors on campus.”
The doors themselves, however, cannot be reused. One of the problems with the doors is that they aren’t wide enough to meet ADA standards. And that is typical of the problems with trying to salvage the old building.
To meet ADA and technology requirements, it would cost more to retrofit it than to start over, McLean said.
“We would have had to upgrade the whole building. There is just a lot of expense, especially when it is block (and brick),” he said.
The furniture has been inventoried and evaluated to find out where it can be repurposed. Some of it, for example, will go to Northeast’s South Sioux City extended campus for a new truck driving and welding building. What isn’t repurposed will be offered to the public in a surplus action.
McLean said the surplus items would typically be stored and sold in the once-a-year auction, but there just isn’t enough room now to wait to hold it.
Scott Gray, vice president for Administrative Services, said the Maclay surplus auction will be held on Friday, Sept. 15, outside the building. The exact time hasn’t been determined yet, but it will be in the afternoon.
Fencing around Maclay and the construction zone will go up in mid-September. Maps will be distributed across campus next week to show how the area will be impacted, Gray said.
McLean said items that are being used again are varied, such as clocks, including some that are going to the West Point extended campus. Other items found new uses, such as a tall metal storage structure that held computer servers. Its next home will be the Echtenkamp Building, where it will be used for instructional purposes in the IT (Information Technology) department.
The college has standard whiteboards and glass boards that it uses. Those items from Maclay will be used all over campus. Some of the air conditioning units that stand alone will be used again as well.
“We were able already to repurpose a unit in the Arlo Wirth (building) in one of the big labs to help with air conditioning to improve it in there,” McLean said. Another air conditioner will be used in the former Building Construction building that now houses a simulator used by the golf team.
McLean is among the staff who have fond memories of the uniquely shaped building, occasionally “going round in circles” and having to stop to think to try to figure out which door is best to exit.
Plans are in the works to remember the original Maclay Building in the new Maclay Building. That includes a historical wall to identify aspects of it.
Barrett herself has her own special memories of the Maclay Building, with her office previously located in it. Among the special activities on Saturday, Sept. 16, to kick off the College’s 50th anniversary will be a remembrance of it.
Brandon McLean, executive director of physical plant at Northeast Community College, poses in front of the map of the Maclay Building that helped to guide visitors when they entered. (Northeast Community College)