When you talk about the beautiful new 100,000 square foot addition to the Naugatuck Valley Community College campus, you have to talk about its past before anything else. Around 1999, an architectural firm was hired to study whether NVCC needed a new building. That firm recognized that the engineer technology program needed a new facility. From there, the option was to renovate Founder’s Hall or construct a new building. Once the decision was made to build the new complex, the next step was to decide where. There were three locations being discussed. One option was the parking lot by Ekstrom Hall, another option was parallel to the entrance of the fine arts wing, and the last was the eventual home of Tech Hall.
With the help of then Governor John Rowland, the general assembly approved $33 million to be used for the construction of Tech Hall. In the spring of 2004, the bond commission approved the finances, and the project was ready for vote. However, at the last minute, it was pulled from the agenda. This was done after doubts and questions arose about the company that made the lowest bid. The project sat for a year, and in 2005, discussions opened up once again. The State Department of Public Works went to architectural companies for bid. The architect that won the bid was Amenta/Emma Architects, P.C. out of Hartford. This time around, the bids went above the $33 million cap, but there was nothing NVCC could do because that is all that they were allotted. The college had to give up money that was originally put aside for furniture to pay the contractors. The money was again bonded in 2006, and the job was awarded to Lawrence Brunoli, Inc out of Farmington.
Before the work began, many shops and programs needed to be moved out of their temporary homes that stood where Tech Hall stands today. Ground breaking for the job was done in the spring of 2006. It was supposed to be a 22 month project which was scheduled to open in February 2008. In September 2008, 60% of the building was complete and opened for the fall semester.
In the spring of 2009, the building was ready for its 100% opening. NVCC had to borrow $5 million from the system office and other areas to furnish the building. Among the expenses in Tech Hall was $50,000 in new fitness equipment to update the exercise room. There are also 30 classrooms with smart technology featuring built in projectors, a video projector that makes objects stand out and new computers. Each of those classrooms cost an amazing $30,000. 400 personal computers were also purchased and spread out across the building for use by students and faculty. Tech Hall also features a state of art auto shop. The shop features 6 lifts and 4 classrooms that make taking auto courses at NVCC a lot easier for students considering the old shop was located on Thomaston Avenue.
A welding lab was also brought to NVCC as a response to a need. The welding program will be a 5 month certificate program. The hospitality department also has a new home in Tech Hall. It features an instructional kitchen with brand new equipment and a huge dining room. Tech Hall also features a viticulture area for wine making classes. Another new feature to Tech Hall is its beautiful new greenhouse laboratory. The one flaw that still exists in Tech Hall are issues with the heating and cooling system. 100,000 square feet was added on to the original boiler to heat Tech Hall and all the quirks haven’t been completely worked out yet. In the spring and summertime, the new eyesore that is the cooling tower built in front of the CORE building is also still getting all the kinks worked out. If those are the only problems with a new building, something is being done right.
On October 16, Governor Jodi Rell saved the best for last and had NVCC be the last college in Connecticut that she visited. Rell made the visit for the Technology Hall dedication ceremony. Joining Rell at the ceremony were various senators, representatives, students, faculty, other community college presidents and the mayor of Waterbury. Rell was extremely impressed with the building, as she said, “Today we get to literally celebrate the opening of another beautiful facility.” Rell also went on to say of the importance of Tech Hall, “It’s about new technology, it’s about getting into the 21st century, it’s about preparing our students for the future. Jobs, jobs, jobs, that’s what it’s all about.” At the event, Dr. Richard Gard, D.M.A., the associate professor of music chair in the department of the arts, premiered “Alma Mater,” a song he hopes will be the NVCC Alumni song. NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis was excited to see so many familiar faces in the crowd, “we threw a party, and you showed up.” The ceremony, hosted by the Dean of Administration and Finance James Troup, featured many thanks to everyone that played a part in making Technology Hall come off the blueprints, and become a reality. Technology Hall is an incredible new addition to Naugatuck Valley Community College. All the extras in the building were worth every penny as they help take a proactive approach to learning.