McAllen: South Texas College Trustees Authorize Schematic Phase on Library Renovation-Expansion
Feature Photo: The south entrance to the Pecan Campus Library, highlighting in lavender the area where the addition is to be constructed. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
McAllen (Hidalgo County) — Trustees for South Texas College agreed to the recommended option for the reconfiguration and expansion of the Pecan Campus Library and authorized the architect to proceed with schematic design.
During the September 22 regular board meeting, the Board of Trustees took up the matter of how to proceed with a feasibility study that resulted in four options for the future renovation and expansion of the library, Building F, on the Pecan Campus.
The most expensive alternate, Option 1, would have cost more than $14 million and would have added 15,120 square feet to the library. The other three options are all similar in cost and scale, each one being about $11.49 million for an additional 8,000 square feet.
The preferred configuration is Option 4 and would add a one-story, 8,000-square-foot expansion on the south side of the building. The existing library is 65,990 square feet.
Option 4 features a new grand entry mall that separates the Rainbow Room, and an extended hours space and makerspace that can be separated from the main library functions.
ERO Architects principle Brian Godinez told the trustees this interior mall connects the library to the parking lot and provides the ability to secure the library from after-hours functions as needed.
Prior to the trustee’s Sept. 22 consideration, Eli Ochoa of ERO Architects met with the Facilities Committee. A primary concern of the committee was whether the timing to proceed was right, considering the pandemic has substantially reduced enrollment.
Shirley Reed, the office president, told the trustees that the lower student count on campus means fewer students would be disrupted by the construction, assuming the pandemic is still an issue at that stage.
“It would not be disruptive over the next year or so … it’s going to be extremely complex to displace the library functions,” Reed said. “And if, at the end of (the schematic) phase, the board decides not to move forward with seeking construction bids, we will address it at that time.”
The Facilities Committee observed in its report that the timeline to complete the renovation-expansion is at least 18 to 24 months out. This aligns with estimates for when a COVID-19 vaccine may become available.
“Administration expect the Pecan campus enrollment to begin rebounding at that time as well and begin to approach pre-pandemic levels. A renovation-expansion during the next 18-24 months would lessen the impact on students as there is expected to be less student traffic on campus during this period of time.”
To date, ERO Architects have been working on programming–consulting with the various college stakeholders on how to better utilize space for the various functions within the library and other services in the building. Once schematic design is complete, ERO must get notice to proceed with the design development and construction documents phases.
Project Name: Pecan Campus Library Building F Renovation and Expansion
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.