Over the past few months, a change has been rising from the ground right before their eyes as construction crews put the finishing touches on the most monumental expansion of the campus since it opened 24 years ago. In January, the doors opened to a new library building facing Jupiter Road, adding much-needed classroom space and forever changing the face of the campus and east Plano.
The project is a triumph for the college’s master expansion plan, which spanned four locations over the course of a decade. The magnificent facility follows the design plan completed at Preston Ridge Campus in Frisco in 2005 and Central Park Campus in McKinney in 2010, with libraries constructed as the centerpieces of the campuses.
Pictured at top: Spring Creek Campus, Middle: Central Park Campus, Bottom: Preston Ridge Campus.
The campus plan itself is based on a teaching model known as a “Learning Community,” which the college uses extensively. According to the college’s district president, the Learning Community model combines multiple subjects with multiple professors for a single, combined class. This allows for more in-depth learning because the overlap creates connections that stimulate discussions between professors and students. Likewise, the Collin College campus plan uses the library as a hub and then connects learning spaces between classrooms, faculty offices, study spaces, hallways, libraries and even entertainment.
“We believe that to move the physical environment into the next century, it is important to ensure that libraries serve as a convening place and reflect contemplative thought as well as engaged learning,” President Israel said.
The new library creates a new front entrance featuring a 15-foot armillary sphere. The building itself features striking classic stone columns and brick accents leading into a grand reading room capped by a 60-foot dome and overlooking a grassy courtyard. On the second floor, classrooms, study rooms, faculty offices and an instructional design center overlook the reading room and add to the vibrant energy of the space.
“When students walk in, information is at their fingertips, and they see a blizzard of activity,” Israel said. “It is a comfortable, interactive oasis for learning.”
PBK Architects worked with President Israel and the Board of Trustees on the design of both the Spring Creek Campus and Central Park Campus expansion projects. According to Chris Leija, a project executive at PBK, “The thought behind the library was for it to have a classic design, to give it a style that resembles education historically and what people anticipate when they go to a place of higher education,” he said.
Overall, the new building and renovation of space vacated by the old library yields 16 classrooms—space that is likely to fill quickly by student demand. The Spring Creek Campus was originally built to accommodate 7,000 students, and in fall 2012 the college squeezed in 13,188 students with creative scheduling like Weekend College.
“The new library will be the cornerstone of the campus, and it will provide a dynamic new learning environment for our students,” said Dr. Mary McRae, vice president/provost of the Spring Creek Campus. “The library also features a new e-learning center, quiet study spaces, reading areas and a computer quick study area for students.” In fact, the new library building triples the number of small and large study rooms and common areas.One of the most interesting features of the new library building is a mock trial courtroom on the second floor. There, aspiring student attorneys from the college’s mock trial team can learn to plead cases in front of the bench, complete with audio and video. The courtroom can also be converted into a large, general-purpose classroom for courses like speech, when needed. Most of the new classrooms in the new building will host courses in communication, humanities and social sciences.
The area the library previously called home will be renovated and repurposed. This phase of construction will add classrooms and space for Honors classes, a veterans resource office, computer labs, writing and math labs, tutoring, conference rooms, a new print shop, and a counseling area. It will also relocate facilities for students with disability service needs. Additional projects include an American Sign Language lab, widening of the main stairways to accommodate increased enrollment, a refurbished atrium and new police offices. The college is also converting existing space for two new science labs for courses in environmental science, biology and microbiology.
“The students, faculty and staff are all excited about the new changes at the Spring Creek Campus,” Dr. McRae said. “This campus opened its doors in 1988, and this is a welcome transformation. We are appreciative to District President Cary Israel and our Board of Trustees for their vision.”
A VISION FULFILLED
So what can students and the public expect? Of course, the new construction is driven to accommodate students’ needs, first and foremost. However, the new and improved face of Spring Creek Campus brings a sense of renewal to a solid, established sector of Collin County. The breathtaking library creates a striking vista not just from Jupiter Road, but from as far away as Parker Road, leaving passersby with an impression that is unmistakably collegiate.
“It definitely is the focal point,” Leija concluded. “When you arrive at the campus now, it’s almost like the building is a symbol. When you drive by, it is easily recognizable, and everyone will know that this is a building the college went above and beyond to create for their students to thrive in and use as a learning tool.”
The new library hosts its first classes on Tuesday, Jan. 22. For more information on the Spring Creek Campus or any Collin College campus, click here or call 1-877-COLLIN1.