Stand on the grassy oval on the north side of NC State’s Centennial Campus and you’ll take in some impressive sights.
A spot that 20 years ago was an undeveloped section of Centennial Campus is now ringed on the north side by three engineering teaching and research buildings. On the south side are Wolf Ridge Apartments, dormitories that engineering students from previous decades would have loved to live in. Across from Wolf Ridge is the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, one of the most impressive facilities of its kind in the world.
Just north of that library is an open field, a long grassy patch backed by a steep embankment.
“The library looks a little lonely sitting by itself at the end of the oval,” said Doug Morton, the University’s associate vice chancellor for facilities and an alumnus of the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE). “We want to give it some company.”
The College plans to break ground in April 2018 on Engineering Building Oval, its newest research and teaching facility on Centennial and the future home of CCEE and the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.
But it’s not a done deal yet.
The College received $75 million toward the $154-million project when North Carolina voters approved the Connect NC bond in March 2016. The College hopes to raise $60 million in private funds to help complete the project. So far, $25 million in commitments has been obtained.
Passing the state bond was a huge step, indicating support from both the legislative leaders who put the building into the bond package and the state residents who voted “yes.”
That gave Dean Louis Martin-Vega and the fundraisers of the NC State Engineering Foundation a commitment to show potential donors. This summer, they received new designs from architecture and engineering firm Clark Nexsen that show a gleaming glass structure that will serve as a showcase for the College and bring it another step closer to unifying on Centennial.
“We’ve raised the first $25 million on a dream,” said Lora Bremer, executive director of major gifts and campaign planning for the Foundation. “We’ve had such wonderful, loyal alumni who have started us off, even when we had nothing to show them.”
The College will be asking alumni and friends to help close the fundraising gap between now and April 2018, when the University hopes to break ground.
“We’re really now in a major push to close the gap between where we are and where we need to be to finish this project,” Martin-Vega said.
The College may have to finance part of the cost to complete the project. That is not a comforting prospect, though, as debt service would cut into what the College can do to provide student services, recruit and retain the best faculty members and offer scholarships to deserving engineering students. It’s a prospect that anyone who loves the College would like to avoid.
“This is where we are. This is what we have to do to make this a reality,” Martin-Vega said. “If we’ve ever needed the support of our alumni and friends, now is the time.”