Black Walnut staff, students movin’ on up


Shown above: Paul Dayboll, coordinator of the college’s Journalism program, settles into the new newsroom on the third floor of Simcoe.

For many staff and students, Simcoe will soon be the new Black – Walnut that is.

That’s because those from NC’s multimedia-based programs such as Journalism and Game Development will begin 2012 in their new campus location – the third floor of the Simcoe building. Here, the $1.3-million renovation project which has been underway since May is now complete, just in time for the winter term to begin.

“It was an ambitious undertaking,” said acting director of Facilities Management Services, and manager of planning and development John Gittings. “To do this work above everybody’s heads was not easy, but the project went well, kept to the timeframe and budget and overall, ran smoothly.”

The third floor has been completely redesigned to include offices, classrooms and computer labs equipped with the latest technology including Macs, high-performance double monitor computers, and digital TV screens mounted on walls to suit their program needs.  Additional features include new ceramic tile flooring and energy-efficient lighting.

While the former doughnut-shaped seating area in the third floor hallway has been removed, a new open-concept central space has taken its place. It will soon be transformed into a seating and gallery area  for common use.  

Linda Roote, coordinator of the college’s web design program, noted that she likes the new common area in the hallway and the new, clean look of her new digs. The location however, may take a bit of getting used to for many staff and students who had been accustomed to parking just steps away from the Black Walnut building.

“This is on the third floor of the building so it will be an adjustment,” she said.  

In addition to having a newly renovated space to work in, Gittings said the location however, will be a bonus for students and staff in many ways, said Gittings, offerning  more convenient access to the college library, cafeteria,bookstore and amenities.

“Bringing them here from the separate building will make them more a part of the college community,” he said.

Paul Dayboll, coordinator of the college’s Journalism program, said he expects the location to be an advantage for students and staff.

“People wouldn’t come all the way to Black Walnut to tell us of things that were going on, but now that we’re connected to this (main) building, I think they’ll wander down the hall and talk to us more often,” he said.

He also said the new light-filled newsroom, which opens up into a second smaller room that, in turn, connects to faculty offices, will allow staff to look in on students without crowding the space – a situation that was often the case in Black Walnut, particularly during busy production periods.

“I like the offices being together but still close to the students,” he said. “This is a great space. It’s really hands-on.”

With the programs, staff and students from Black Walnut relocated to Simcoe, plans were originally in place to tear down Black Walnut beginning January 2012. The demolition however, has been placed on temporary reprieve.

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