TEXARKANA, Texas – Texarkana College is in the midst of its science, technology, engineering and mathematics remodeling project and is only just beginning the phase where it will update its existing biology building through ‘an atrium that will connect it to the new biology building.
This will essentially make it a building.
The STEM project started in the fall of 2019 with the renovation of its health professions building, modernizing and upgrading it into what is now the new biology building. The second phase is the updating of the school chemistry building, which is almost complete.
“In phases 3a and 3b, what we’re doing is updating the existing biology building and bringing it up to the level of what you’re going to see in the (new biology building) and the chemistry building,” Vice President of Operations Said Brandon Washington. “We are looking to bring together the old and the new biology buildings to a place where everything will truly be one building.”
These upgrades were approved by the Board of Trustees in 2018 to modernize the teaching space and meet state and federal ADA compliance standards. The cost has been set at $ 15 million
The final phase, currently underway, has a budget capped at just under $ 5 million.
âIt really gives us a really good opportunity to really go into updating these things from the 1960s, for the most part,â Washington said. “We will have six biology labs, four chemistry labs and 11 classrooms all of which will be fully renovated when this whole project comes together.”
He said these updates keep Texarkana College competitive with community colleges and four-year colleges in the region.
âWe want to make sure that we have a state-of-the-art facility with the right tools and equipment they need in STEM fields,â he added.
The final stages of the chemistry building renovation, including an all-new heating and air conditioning system, plumbing, furniture, labs, lab equipment and more, are expected to be completed within the next month. It would be in time for the students and teachers to occupy the building for the second week of summer semester classes – there are five of them.
The target date for the completion of construction work for Phase 3 is July 2022.
More Upgrades Coming
Washington said that while the college expects to be under budget in all three phases, there is not yet a definitive list of additional upgrades / renovations to be made in other areas, largely in because of the high material costs at the moment.
âThere are other areas on campus that we can improve on, but we don’t have a defined list yet,â he said. âThe cost of materials is really increasing across the country, and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves with this increase in materials. But our subcontractors are working very hard to make sure we can get the same materials at the best price available right now. “
Washington thanked Facilities Manager Rick Boyette, Architect David Lamb and contractors from ML James Construction Co. for the work that has been done and is underway. He also said that the contribution of the faculty was of great help.
âOur ultimate goal is for this facility to be used effectively by students, faculty and instructors. So we got the teachers and instructors involved in their needs and what it takes to be effective, âhe said. âWhat I learned the most, being the first big project I was involved in, was A, being able to learn from everyone on the team and from B, just everyone coming together, having a voice and making sure it sounds good. “
Feedback from students and faculty has been good, he said.
âAt this point, all of the professors, instructors, and classes that we have out there now that have started, we only hear compliments,â Washington said. “And that means a lot, but it wouldn’t happen if we didn’t get together every week and make sure it was efficient and functional for everyone. That was the most interesting part.”