Major construction projects at Rider slated for 2018

Work includes the creation of a new Bart Luedeke Center facade
Adam Grybowski

With the spring semester underway, Rider University is looking ahead to starting work on a docket of major construction projects that promise to alter and improve the experience of living and learning on the University’s 300-acre campus in Lawrenceville.

Renovations to residence halls, upgrades to academic buildings and the construction of an entirely new facade of the Bart Luedeke Center are scheduled to begin or currently underway. The majority of the planned projects will be funded through $38.75 million of bond proceeds from fall 2017. Other projects will be made possible through donor contributions.

“Our strategic plan calls for making these facilities investments in support of a vibrant living and learning experience for students and all members of our Rider community,” says President Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.  “These investments are also key to rebuilding enrollments, advancing our academic reputation and brand, and delivering the Rider Promise for generations to come.”

The most dramatic visible change coming to the University is the new facade planned for the Bart Luedeke Center. The concrete steps will be removed entirely and replaced by a single entrance on the ground floor. With the steps gone, a new plaza in front of the building will be created, with gathering spaces for visitors and residents. A new metal canopy will soar above the entrance, and a concrete walk with glass railing will encircle part of the second floor on the outside of the building. The lobby will also be renovated, with new lighting and changes to the stairways.

“Students who leave in May are going to see a huge difference when they return in September,” says Mike Reca, vice president for facilities and university operations.

Water infiltration of the concrete steps, which are original to the building, made the repairs necessary. “We’re taking the opportunity to improve the entrance while removing the steps,” Reca says. “The changes will enhance the aesthetics of the building and its surroundings and improve the flow of traffic into the building.”

Demolition is set to begin the Monday after Commencement in May, with the project planned to go through the summer and completed by the start of the fall semester.

Work on Wright and Ridge halls continues a pattern of upgrades to Rider’s residence halls that began with Gee Hall in 2016. Gee reopened in the fall of 2017 with new air conditioning, six completely renovated bathrooms, new flooring and paint, and a power upgrade to meet student needs for electricity. Wright and Ridge will receive similar improvements. In addition, bathrooms will be expanded in Wright to provide more fixtures per students.

The academic experience inside Rider’s classrooms will continue to improve as upgrades continue to the Science and Technology Center and Anne Brossman Sweigart Hall, home to Rider’s  AACSB-accredited business and accounting programs. The work on upgrading Sweigart’s classrooms, offices and common areas is expected to last through September, but no disruption to the start of the fall semester is expected.

Rider’s ambitious plan to renovate the first floor of the original 30,000-square foot Science and Technology Center will be completed over the summer. Rooms on the first and third floors are being outfitted with new lecture areas and workstations, as well as new equipment and facilities for experiments. On the first floor, the work will focus on renovating a suite of four classrooms and teaching labs. On the third floor, the work will result in a new computer lab, new faculty office spaces and two new research labs.

With funding already in hand, Rider is also looking forward to the construction of a significant addition to the Science and Technology Center to accommodate new program growth. The projected $20-million addition is expected to be one of the largest projects in Rider’s history.

The addition will be based on the strategic initiatives related to STEM and help accommodate growing science programs as well as potential new programs, says Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs DonnaJean A. Fredeen.

Future projects, which include renovations to one of the University’s two theaters and further upgrades to residence halls, are also in the planning stages through 2020.