Niles’ Barbara Wood Cook’s building renovated

Published 9:24 pm Monday, August 20, 2007

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
DOWAGIAC – Southwestern Michigan College's Information Technology Center, dedicated Sunday afternoon, is located in the newly-renovated, 25,601-square-foot Barbara Wood Building on the north end of the Dowagiac campus off Cherry Grove Road.
Rain moved festivities indoors.
The renovated Barbara Wood Building includes the new 4,534-square-foot expansion to the existing facility opened 40 years ago in 1967.
The Barbara Wood Building originally housed SMC's applied science program.
In 1983, a 5,600-square-foot addition was built, significantly enlarging the building's four technical laboratories, which included the automotive training and welding programs.
The former occupies the onetime aviation facility. The latter relocated to the Niles campus in Milton Township.
SMC's IT Center is certified as "green," or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), meaning specific attention was given to recycling old construction materials and diversion of materials to a disposal site, reuse of materials for new construction, indoor environmental air and lighting equality and energy efficiency to meet certification standards.
The building maintained 95 percent of existing walls, floors and roof, diverted 75 percent from disposal through construction waste management and recycled 20 percent of existing material.
The building has a computerized HVAC system, a controllable system for interior lighting, switches and motion sensors and utilizes low-emitting materials, such as paints, coatings and carpet.
"The new IT Center project was designed and constructed in accordance with the LEED Green Building Rating System," according to Stephen Marks, project manager with Design+, the Grand Rapids architectural firm for the $4.5 million project.
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED Green Rating SystemTM is a voluntary building certification program that defines high-performance green buildings, which are more environmentally responsible, healthier and more profitable structures.
LEED buildings have lower operating costs and healthier occupants than conventionally constructed structures.
The IT Center integrates SMC's learning environment with corporate training.
It will be the hub for all forms of academic learning as well as corporate training, tutoring, mentoring and assessment and certification, offering multiple levels of education and instruction in the field of information technology.
"We live in an information and technology-rich world," said Dr. Diane Chaddock, SMC's vice president and chief operating officer. "Literacy means language, but today it also means computers. You cannot do anything or go anywhere without someone using technology today."
Those individuals who will benefit from the new center are incumbent and displaced workers, all SMC and area high school students, including students enrolled in information technology programs, SMC employees, educators and businesses which are not in traditional technological fields.
Additionally, SMC non-computer students will benefit from the new technology center, where English composition and technical math, as well as other courses, will be taught.
"SMC recognizes the diversity of learning needs of all of its audiences and we want to provide training and certification services through many different avenues," Chaddock said. "We want to be the regional resources for the traditional and non-traditional educational and training needs of our communities."
Included in training offerings is the IC3 program, or Internet and Computing Core Certification program.
Designed to meet computing needs of today's digital age, the IC3 program combines standards from various disciplines, including government organizations, computer industry associations, training providers, work force services, corporations and academia.
"The $4.5 million project completely transformed the Barbara Wood Building into a state-of-the-art facility which will provide IT training and certification far beyond what is currently available anywhere in our region," SMC President David M. Mathews said. "The IT Center will offer flexible learning spaces that can be used to support instruction that is delivered in a variety of modes and settings. All classrooms have state-of-the-art audio visual equipment, comfortable student seating and student furniture that can be configured for individual learning, group learning and group presentation."
"The Information Technology Center will serve as the intersection of information technology education for multiple types of learners with a variety of learning needs," Chaddock said, "And by doing so, serve as a model educational resource of the future in which life-long learning is imperative for the success of the individual and the survival of the community."
"What a great time it is for SMC," commented Chairman Dr. Fred L. Mathews. "Despite funding challenges over the past five years, this college has restructured and refocused its energies and resources into its primary mission – providing quality education for its citizens at an affordable cost. The results have been spectacular. This college has been in the top 10 percent for student success rates in the nation."
The 15,467-square-foot Barbara Wood Building became SMC's fourth building in 1967. It is named for Barbara Wood Cook of Niles, who attended the riboon cutting, along with former SMC presidents David Briegel and Russell "M" Owen.