An architect's rendering shows what a new Learning Commons will look like on North Platte Community College's South Campus following a series of renovations.
The students may be gone, but the activity hasn't slowed down at Mid-Plains Community College campuses in North Platte and McCook.
Crews began tearing out the fireplace area in the McDonald-Belton Building in North Platte on Tuesday. It's one of a series of renovation projects that will continue throughout the summer.
"The whole purpose of these projects is to create a better learning environment for our students," said Mike Steele, MPCC area vice president of administrative services. "While we're updating the function, however, we're also updating the aesthetics of the buildings. They need to be places that are attractive and welcoming."
McDonald-Belton Building – South Campus, North Platte
From now until August, the north entrances to the McDonald-Belton Building will remain closed so the fireplace area can be remodeled.
The existing ceiling, lights and fireplace will be pulled out. The floor will be leveled, and the ceiling above the seating area will be reworked to make it more aesthetically pleasing.
"It's mostly a cosmetic project," Steele said. "We put new furniture in the fireplace area last year, and it was a drawing point for the students. They really enjoyed it, so now that it's a new budget year, we want to make the rest of the space match the furniture. The idea is to create a welcoming area for students to hang out."
The current gas fireplace will be replaced with an electric version, and a large screen TV will hang above it.
Additionally, the trapezoid area will be carpeted, charging stations will be added and the trophy cases on either side of the theater will be converted into small sitting areas.
McDonald Belton Learning Resource Center/Student Success Center
North Platte Learning Commons
The other side of the McDonald-Belton Building is also under construction. The plans are to unite the Learning Resource Center (library) and the Student Success Center into a unified Learning Commons while at the same time, modernizing the look and feel of the space.
"We are putting in new furniture that will accommodate groups as well as individuals," Steele said. "That will include two study rooms that will seat six to eight students. Each room will have its own TV for video conferencing. There will also be some individual study carrels, charging stations and lots of space for people to sit down. "
In the meantime, student success and learning resource services can be found across the hall - in rooms 141-145.
Elsewhere in McDonald-Belton
Other areas in the McDonald-Belton Building will also receive a facelift.
The space immediately inside the south entrance will receive new flooring, lighting and ceiling tiles to make it more inviting to visitors. Televisions will be added on either side of the entrance, and a digital kiosk with information about the college will be situated outside the Welcome Center.
There are also plans to frame in a trophy case outside the gymnasium.
The total cost of the McDonald-Belton renovations will be about $425,000. A portion of the Learning Commons remodel was paid for with grant funds in the amount of $135,280 from Nebraska's Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education (CCPE). The rest of work was budgeted for.
W.W. Wood Building - North Campus, North Platte
Every building on North Platte's north campus will be closed to the public from June 9-15, with the exception of the W.W. Wood Building, which will remain closed until July 1.
The closure is necessary so that all of the electrical supply and equipment in the building can be replaced. The existing infrastructure was installed in the '70s.
Also on the north campus, the concrete approaches to each entrance will be pulled out and replaced with new concrete.
The island on the east side of the W.W. Wood Building will be removed to create a flat parking lot that could accommodate classes. The lights in that parking lot will be upgraded.
Steele estimated the electrical project at about $430,000 and the paving at $95,000.
An architect's rendering shows what the von Riesen Library will look like in McCook following a series of renovations.
The von Riesen Library in McCook will be closed all summer as that building undergoes a complete remodel.
"We did some remodeling in there 15-20 years ago," Steele said. "This project will basically move all student service functions to the first floor so they are easier to find. It will also allow us to jointly use staff from multiple departments to operate the facility."
The current library will remain upstairs, but the book stacks and the children's library will move downstairs.
McCook Learning Commons - first floor von Riesen Library
"The children's library will get its own semi private space in the basement to give it more room," Steele said. "The area will also gain a TV."
The news and sports information office, as well as the piano lab, will remain on the lower level. Also in the basement will be two study rooms and seating for group workspaces.
All student success offices, such as tutoring, will be moved upstairs where there will be two areas designated for taking tests. The first floor will house a memorabilia room that will be accessible to the public, a group study room, carrel desks and charging stations.
"The look and feel will be the same as the Learning Commons in North Platte," Steele said. "The circulation desk will serve as the hub. Students can stop there to get directions to the various services. They will also be able to sit at a bar behind the circulation desk to study."
Until von Riesen reopens, student success and library services can be found in Walsh-Brady Hall.
Angled parking will also be added on the McCook campus along L Street between von Riesen and Walsh-Brady. There may be partial street obstructions as the work is completed.
The cost of all McCook campus projects is estimated at $1 million. As in North Platte, the von Riesen remodel was aided by CCPE grant funding in the amount of $114,720.
CAST Building - McCook
MPCC's Center for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) will also be renovated over the summer.
The plan is to move the locker rooms and restrooms to the front of the building to allow students to change before they enter the shop and lab. That will also allow for better utilization of space within the lab. Additionally, one classroom will be expanded into space that is currently not being utilized.
The improvements follow a welding booth upgrade last summer.
The exterior of the building will be revamped during the summer of 2020. The cost of this summer's project is estimated at $100,000.