By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
After about two years of construction, Texas A&M University-Central Texas unveils its inaugural building later this week.
The university's $40 million building, called Founder's Hall, is located on a 672-acre tract transferred from Fort Hood to the school in 2009.
Founder's Hall, which has space for students and administrators, includes a lecture hall, classrooms, meeting rooms, offices and public gathering space. Construction on the 302,000-square-foot facility started in 2010, and opening day is Thursday.
Chris Hill, director of facilities for the university, said the building's initial use was mainly for administrative purposes, but the plan evolved. "It was supposed to house few departments, but we decided it makes more sense to bring the students in."
While the administration offices are mostly in the building's west wing, the facility has more than 20 classrooms with
state-of-the art technology, such as "smart podiums" and digital projectors. Six classrooms are "teaching labs," desktops that flip to reveal flat-screen computers.
Hill said easy-to-use, fully integrated technology was an important element in creating Founder's Hall, which is entirely wireless and features more than 21 miles of cable.
Besides its high-tech features, Hill said the university made the building as energy efficient as possible, with a special ultra-violet light coating on floor-to-ceiling windows, recyclable carpeting and a 25,000-gallon water reclamation system to help maintain the landscaping.
"We are trying to do the right thing," he said. "It's one of those things the A&M system really pushes for."
The building, which Hill said could hold about 1,000 people at any one time, also has a lecture hall with a capacity of 150-160 people and a welcome center and a bookstore. While the new building is mostly for the university's students and staffers, it also has space for public use. The lecture hall, for example, will be available for use by local organizations. An outdoor gathering area also is open concerts and other social events.
"It took 30 years for the community to make this happen," said Randy McCauley, spokesperson for the university. "We want this to feel open for them."
While university officials celebrate the opening of Founder's Hall, which will welcome its first students in June, they are about to break ground on the campus' second facility, which is adjacent to the main building. Hill said the more than 12,000-square-foot facility is expected to cost about $50 million.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.
If you go
What: Founders Hall grand opening celebration
When: 10 a.m. Thursday
For more information and detailed directions, go to www.tamuct.org.