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Technology center to be built at UMW
University of Mary Washington scheduled to open information and technology center in 2014.

 An artist's rendering shows University of Mary Washington's technology convergence center, set for Campus Walk.
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Date published: 6/8/2011

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

The University of Mary Washington hopes to open a $38.6 million information and technology convergence center in fall 2014.

The state recently approved funding for the four-story, 76,720-square-foot building. It will be next to UMW's Simpson Library along Campus Walk--the Fredericksburg school's main walkway.

"This will be a building that looks very 18th-century on the outside and will be totally 21st-century on the inside," said UMW Associate Provost John Morello, chairman of the center's building committee.

The university plans to break ground in summer 2012. The convergence center will take two years to build.

UMW President Rick Hurley said it will be challenging to manage a construction project next to the library and "right in the heart of the campus."

But long-term, he said, the center will have a positive impact. "Part of the thinking behind this space is that it's going to be collaboration oriented," Hurley said. "We think that in the future you're going to see more and more collaboration between and among faculty and students."

The center will include:

An enclosed walkway connected to the library's second floor.

Video and audio production rooms. "It will be kind of like a small TV studio," Morello said.

Designated areas for quiet study space. Part of the center will be open 24 hours a day.

An auditorium with seating for up to 162.

Teaching space, including an "incubator classroom" where professors can try out technology.

Student collaboration rooms with computers, computer plug-ins, flat-screen TVs, projectors and wireless access.

E-stations, similar to airport kiosks, where students can check their email and networking sites.

Conference and training rooms.

"This building is meant to remind everybody that technology and information go hand in hand," Morello said.

The university has been planning the project for several years but wasn't able to obtain state funding until this year.

"There was a delay because of the economic conditions in the state, and it put a halt on a lot of projects, chief among them construction projects," Morello said.

The center, he said, will enrich UMW's curriculum by providing a lot of resources in one place. Its location along the heavily traveled Campus Walk is another plus.

"This particular site brings a lot of dynamism and exciting possibilities," Morello said.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com