ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
A lounge area for students was added to the renovated McGee Building at North Shore Community College’s Lynn campus.
By MATT DEMIRS
LYNN — The state-of-the-art expansion at the North Shore Community College Lynn campus is solving an age-old capacity problem with the new addition, set to officially open this fall.
The project, which cost $23 million, was designed to create more space for the NSCC students taking classes at the Lynn Campus, originally built in 1985 and designed for 1,000 students.
Today, the building serves 4,000 students.
The three-story, 41,500 square foot addition to the current House Speaker Thomas W. McGee Building, is equipped with modern classrooms and offices, a Student Success Center, a new Center for Alternative Studies and Academic Assessments, informal student study spaces and more.
Patricia A. Gentile, North Shore Community College President, led The Item through a tour of the new facility stating that the expansion will finally be able to handle the student population, and meet the needs for faculty and staff.
In the front of the new wing is the Student Success Center, where one can find the financial aid office, advising, admissions, and more.
The center also contains offices and conference rooms for staff to have individual meeting space, and larger rooms for meetings with families or bigger groups.
Officers for advisers and other staff was something the original building didn’t have, she said.
Staff members in the Student Success Center are available to help almost entirely with the admissions process.
Linda Brantley, director of public relations and new media, said it acts as a “one-stop shop” for students seeking assistance with their educational pathways.
One of the unique parts about the center is the ability to move the furniture to make room for events held by the admissions department, like orientation.
The center employs nine bilingual staff members to meet the Latino population, which makes up nearly 24 percent of the student body.
The second floor has five classrooms, and a lounge area where students can relax, read, study, access the college’s internet, and talk with schoolmates. Lounges weren’t in the original building, Gentile said.
The only thing NSCC had for lounge-like seating, Gentile said, is a line of chairs that resemble airplane seating.
“You were able to sit next to someone, but you weren’t able to ever sit across from one and actually have a conversation,” she said. “Now you can. We’ve really expanded on student space.”
Gentile has already seen students using this particular space and admiring the natural light, creating an inviting atmosphere, she said.
The third floor has three classrooms, faculty offices and even more areas dedicated to helping students, such as testing rooms.
The testing rooms will be used to take ACCUPLACER Computerized Placement Tests which are used to determine appropriate course placements for students in subjects like math and English. English as a second language testing will also be held in these rooms.
A conference room with microphones coming from the ceiling, a projector, camera, and more equip the conference room to make meetings via video call feel more real, Gentile said. Ten classrooms were added equipped with updated SMART boards, and desks on wheels that are able to move about to facilitate group discussions.
Each classroom is also equipped with two desks designed for students who are handicapped. With the addition of a new elevator in the south wing, the building has become more handicapped accessible, giving the school two elevators in different parts of the building.
Gentile said the space also makes it possible for NSCC to move officers and campus police into the building, which were located in the MBTA building across the street until now.
There are more plans with what we want to do here in time, she said.
Some of these plans include a bookstore by the new entrance on Broad Street, slated to open by the spring, which will be open to everyone, not just NSCC students.
“I think the expansion is a real boost for our students, as well as the community too,” Gentile said.
Matt Demirs can be reached at [email protected]