Construction is coming along on two new buildings at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, with one to be ready in time to hold the May 2018 commencement ceremony.
The $11 million multipurpose building, which will feature a NCAA regulation-size basketball and volleyball court, is expected to be complete by April 2018, according to Night Keys with Eagle Lake Development. The 38,000-square-foot space will also house the university's kinesiology program and contain a lab and classrooms. Additional features include a Starbucks, a gaming room and a student recreation area.
It's funded through a public-private partnership, which is normally used to build residence halls, said James Scogin, the university's vice president of finance and administration.
"It's very unique to have a public-private partnership building a rec center," he said, adding that the A&M System has one other such project at College Station, and San Antonio is also considering a partnership like it.
Vicki Huckabee, chief of staff at A&M-Texarkana, said donors were the key to getting the recreation center so quickly.
"The Texarkana community has made this possible," she said. "We have had donors. That's how we've been able to do this. There's no state funds being used."
Eagle Lake Development of Texarkana will own the building, and the university will, over time, purchase the building from the company.
"I think (the community) is who convinced the university system to try to put it together and get it funded and donated funds to cover it," Keys said. "We own the building, and the university will be paying for the building. It's a different mechanism. It will be through donations and other funding sources that they pull together."
State funds are being used for the 58,000-square-foot Building for Academic and Student Success being built nearby, which is scheduled for completion in November 2018.
Called the BASS building, it was funded in 2015 through the Texas Legislature. The $32 million building will house several programs, including the new four-year nursing program.
"It's not just classrooms. It's not just offices," Huckabee said. "The whole third floor is for nursing. It will actually be a small hospital. It will mimic and have the patient treatment rooms and triage rooms and all that, just like you would walk into the hospital. The second floor is at this point business, classrooms and conference rooms."
The first floor will house enrollment, student and veteran services.
"We're looking at that building as the gateway to the campus now, so when folks are coming for the first time, those things they need when they first come to Texas A&M-Texarkana will be literally, physically right there for them," she said.
Natural products are included in the building's design to fit with the wooded surroundings.
"There's a lot of wood. It's a very warm and inviting space. Both buildings will have modern features and be up-to-date, but they will fit well in this setting," Huckabee said. It also includes wall coverings with huge tree rings to continue the forest theme.
"It's just very cool. It's new and has this modern aesthetic, yet it fits with the campus we've got here with the woods all around it," she said. "There will be some unusual, neat things in there."
Workers with Hoar Construction of Houston are putting steel beams in place, and this "topping out" should be completed in February.
Scogin said they've been lucky, with only a slight weather delay in the work and things going smoothly.
"Both contractors have worked on the campus before," he said. "I'm very pleased with who we are working with. Everybody seems to be working well together."
Huckabee agreed the project was living up to expectations.
"Both projects, we've just had really good partners to guide us and give us expertise, yet we've had input and been able to make it our own, so to speak," she said.
Scogin said students and staff are excited for the new buildings to open, especially those who work in the athletic department.
"It's going to free a lot of room. Right now, we literally have faculty and staff in closets," he said. "The athletic department is two and three to an office. We even have some in the library—wherever they'll fit."
The university is in the process of ordering furniture for the multipurpose building, including desks, chairs, equipment for the training rooms and furniture for the lounge.
Huckabee said university officials are excited to be able to offer these additional services.
"We're all really excited to have these two buildings on our campus," she said. "It's what makes the projects unique, that both are truly multipurpose at our university. We will all be so glad when they are complete and we can begin using them."