As magnificent as the three-story Heelan Hall addition looks from the outside, Christian Blair is more excited about “what’s under the hood” on the second floor, home of the new chem labs.
“This is top of the line,” the sophomore says, pointing to a snorkel hood sucking up fumes from his latest experiment.
“In the old labs, you had to move everything under our more traditional‘box’ hood,” explains chemistry professor Paul Weber. “Now, the hood moves to you.”
The state-of-the-art laboratories also offer more workspace, storage and safety stations than the old chemistry rooms. It’s all part of the $10.75-million Heelan Hall transformation, now in its second phase. The renovation of labs and classrooms in the existing 82-year-old structure should be complete by next fall.
Of course, new classrooms are only part of the makeover. Heelan has new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. And what used to be the Heelan parking lot is now an 8,150-square foot atrium, complete with a revamped Java City coffee shop – a favorite hangout between classes.
“Most people get the ‘Cookies N’ Cream Javalanche’ – it’s the No. 1 drink,” says Olivia Essig, a sophomore barista at Java City. “It’s a hit.”
Christian, meanwhile, has a different go-to: “I’m not really a coffee drinker,” he says, after wrapping up his work in the lab. “I’m more of a banana-nut-muffin guy.”