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NCI building construction on time
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New College Institute Executive Director William C. Wampler, right, leads officials from Dominion Virginia Power and others on a tour of the future home of NCI's Academy for Engineering and Technology, which is under construction on the Baldwin Block in uptown Martinsville. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Abundant rainfall this year has not hampered the construction of the New College Institute (NCI) building on the Baldwin Block, according to officials.

Construction is on schedule and expected to be finished by late next spring, said Debbie Lewis, development officer for the New College Foundation, NCI’s private fundraising arm.

The three-story, 52,000-square-foot building will be the first building built specifically for NCI. It will house new academic programs being developed in advanced manufacturing, health care technology and entrepreneurism.

Also, it will have a grand hall for community events and house offices for NCI as well as the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC). The uptown visitors center plans to occupy part of the building.

The total construction cost, including equipment and furnishings, has been estimated at $18 million. About $17 million in federal and state funds, plus public and private grants — including a $40,000 donation from the Dominion Foundation announced Friday — has been raised. A $2 million “Building on Baldwin” fundraising campaign continues.

However, “in the end,” Lewis said, “it’s not about the building, but what happens inside” to prepare students for jobs of the future.

NCI’s Academy for Engineering and Technology will be based in the building. Several of the academy’s students attended an announcement of Dominion’s donation Friday morning during which a tour of the construction was given.

The building is “all about you young people,” Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville and an NCI board member, told the students.

NCI Executive Director William Wampler said the building will be “cutting edge” in its appearance, design and furnishings.

Not too modern-looking, though.

“We didn’t want (to build) George Jetson’s building,” Wampler said, referring to a cartoon character who lives in the future, “but we didn’t want (it to look like) an old building, either.”

In recent weeks, the building’s steel framework has been erected, and some floors have been installed. Concrete poured last week for the floor in a room that will contain equipment used in high-tech manufacturing processes still was warm during Friday’s construction tour.

The Grand Hall has been designed so it can be divided into as many as three separate rooms for multiple events, Wampler said. He noted that partitions will come down from the ceiling instead of out of the walls.

Eleven classrooms in the building will have the latest audio/visual classroom technology, NCI officials have said.

The building also will have “collaboratories,” which Wampler described as “unique learning spaces” in nooks where students can informally gather to study or discuss lessons.

Outside will be amphitheater-like spaces with wiring so they can be used as “electronic classrooms” similar to rooms inside, Wampler said.

The Baldwin Block, named after the late local physician/philanthropist Dr. Dana O. Baldwin, once was a thriving commercial center for the local black community.

Leanna Blevins, NCI’s associate director and chief academic officer, said the new building will be “a progression of this block’s vibrant past” that will help teach tomorrow’s students.


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