The Rita Hollings Science Center (RHSC) will soon undergo a major renovation to address the building’s deficiencies and modernize its instructional and research capabilities. At the same time, Physician’s Auditorium will be reconstructed and repurposed as a three story addition to the Hollings building. The renovation and reconstruction is tentatively scheduled to begin in May 2014, and is expected to take approximately two years to complete.
RHSC and Physician’s Auditorium were both constructed in 1974, with a second phase added onto RHSC in 1987. The facilities were built to accommodate a student body of 5,000 students and the College’s enrollment has more than doubled since that time. Several studies over the last 15 years have identified numerous building deficiencies, which have led to problems with air quality. Likewise, the buildings were designed over three decades ago and do not meet the functional needs of 21st century instruction and research.
The first through third floor of the new building will consist of 8 classrooms, 51 Research Labs, and 27 Teaching Labs, which will be utilized for Biology, Physics, Astronomy, and Psychology. The fourth floor/roof will house the astronomy lab, control room, telescope dome, astronomy deck, and vivarium. The building will contain 61 faculty and staff offices. It is estimated that 12,000 students will use the new building annually, and it will have the capacity to occupy 1,138 students at a time.
The existing auditorium will be torn down, rebuilt, and two new floors will be added atop it. Each floor of the new Physician’s Auditorium will be adjoined to RHSC to create one building. The current sloped-floor auditorium with fixed seating will be reconstructed into a flat-floor, customizable venue with three spaces divided by movable partitions. The main auditorium space will seat approximately 350 in movable, assembly-style seating and could be used as classroom or conference space. There will also be a 50 seat classroom and a 60 seat classroom on the main floor. Together, the three spaces can be configured to provide a multifunctional auditorium with a maximum seating capacity of 500.
Major systems components that need to be addressed include replacement of the roof, mechanical and electrical systems, ventilation and chemical fume hood inadequacies, and indoor air quality. Many of the existing systems cannot support a renovation and will require complete replacement as well as the supporting systems and equipment. For example, the electrical system does not have adequate capacity to provide emergency power. Also, the existing hoods and duct work will not meet current code and cannot be reused.
While phasing has been used in the past for renovation projects, it is not feasible for RHSC due to the integration of the infrastructure systems. Also, a phasing project would be significantly more expensive. As a result of the renovation, the College must vacate 70,000 square feet of assignable space. The Geology Department will be permanently moved to the new School of Science and Mathematics Building. Approximately 50,000 square feet will need to be moved into swing space. Swing spaces will include Harbor Walk, formerly known as Fountain Walk, JC Long, the Lightsey Center, SCRA Wet Labs, MUSC, and the vivarium with housed at the old 42 George Street apartments.