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CGTC Invests in New Health Sciences Building

Technology students in Millidgeville, Ga. now have a $15 million cutting-edge facility to peruse.

Wed August 07, 2013 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley

Students exploring technology-related careers can now enjoy a cutting-edge facility in Millidgeville, Ga., offering everything from virtual patients to sophisticated computer labs. In April 2013, Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) in Macon held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new center for health sciences building at its Millidgeville campus. The facility is 77,704 sq. ft. (7,218.9 sq m) and cost roughly $15 million.

"We worked with our system office and our legislative delegation for almost eight years to get the funding for the building," said Hank Griffeth, vice president of satellite operations at CGTC. "That seems like a long period of time, but it’s typical of capital improvement project funding, so the project can be planned, vetted and ultimately funded in manner that is a good use of taxpayer dollars. The design and construction took another two years, so there was much pride in being able to open this facility."

The building is three floors and brick, stone and glass was used to create a mountain-style that involves a modern bend with sharp lines and cantilever windows, according to Griffeth. The stone is used on the exterior and continues into the interior where it meshes with terrazzo flooring along with glass stair rails and maple-wood accents.

"The building site was a nice open field," said Ronny Williams, the project manager of general contractor Chris R. Sheridan. "We installed two retention ponds and removed pine trees. The project went extremely well for the most part."

Crews did minor rock removal for footings and underground pipes, but were not delayed. The building was watertight before installing any of the masonry, windows and metal panels. This allowed interior work to begin early without concern of rainy weather.

Some challenges included coordinating the curtain wall system with the metal panel skin. The project had a commissioning agent for the envelope and the MEP systems that took a lot of time and coordination, according to Williams.

Classes resumed in May by moving the current health sciences programs from the original building on the campus to the new building. New programs are starting that were planned for the building during the fall semester. Additionally, community entities have already used the conference center that is part of the building, and bookings for it are coming in at a steady rate, Griffeth said.

He added the new facility comes with a significant price tag .

"With the FFE funding that is used to equip it, the total approaches $20 million total, said Griffeth. "We appreciate the taxpayers of our state making that investment in us and in the students we train. The original building for this campus was built about 20 years ago to accommodate 500 students. The student population has more than doubled and the need for additional classroom and lab space was an absolute necessity. The decision to plan the building to house just health sciences programs was made in an effort to expand those programs and to begin the planning for future growth in a manner that created specialized classroom and lab facilities."

The building will be the location for all health sciences programs for the campus, including practical nursing, medical assisting, medical coding, medical skin care, clinical lab technology and neuromuscular therapy. CGTC contains labs for biology, chemistry and physics, as well as classrooms and computer labs for psychology and sociology courses. The library for the campus is located on the second floor for use by all students attending the college or taking online classes who live in this geographic area. A conference center and business and industry training center is located on the first floor.

Included are eight standard classrooms, eight computer labs, six programmatic labs, three science labs, 14 faculty offices, two administrative office suites, conference center quads, a boardroom, a catering kitchen, three lobby areas, an information technology serve room, a computer repair area and a technician office area.

"Everyone has been amazed at the appearance and functionality of the building," said Griffeth. "The building is on a hill on the campus, and many citizens have mentioned to me how attractive it is from the road, but they’re even more impressed when they see the inside. The students love it and often comment about the environment and the technology they have available to them."

"The new structure and the existing one are separated by a huge parking lot, so we actually took some of those spaces and created a park setting with benches for students who have to hike across from one building to the other, because it is a pretty good distance," said Kamal Azar, architect of Azar Walsh.

Although not LEED-certified, the structure was designed to be green, from environmentally friendly mechanical devices to the installation of energy saving light sensors. In addition, the building offers the latest technology.

The teaching labs had simulated hospital head walls and beds just like a hospital room, according to Williams, and included a dummy patient that talked.

"Unlike when the original building on campus was constructed, our vision for technical education focused on students making a choice to earn a degree in this field, and pursue a career," said Azar. "We approached this as more of a traditional university, as opposed to just a ’technical college’, which was a huge departure in concept. The Health Sciences building needed to reflect what’s out there today, including large medical labs for different trades. We tried to make labs the same as you’d see in the actual work place. The key was meeting with each department head and professor and getting input so they wouldn’t be disappointed with the finished product. This meant lots of coordination with different people."

Central Georgia Technical College was established as Macon Area Vocational-Technical School in 1962 through joint action of the Georgia State Board of Education and the Bibb County Board of Education. The school is a two-year public commuter college offering on-site and distance education academic programs and services, adult education, continuing education and customized business and industry services.

Construction on the Milledgeville Campus began in 1996, with the campus opening in late 1997. In 2000, the school was renamed Central Georgia Technical College to better represent the seven-county area it serves.

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