BY ERIC HURD
Construction of the new rehabilitation center began Monday, according to an official email released by The University. The first step is to demolish Leahy Hall.
According to The University’s website, the center for rehabilitation education will provide undergraduate and graduate students a state-of-the-art facility for occupational therapy, physical therapy and the department of exercise science. This building will be constructed where Leahy Hall currently stands, which is at the southwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Linden Street.
James Devers, the associate vice president for facilities operations, said the new rehabilitation center has been a focal point since the construction of the Loyola Science Center.
“The most logical site was the site of where Leahy Hall is now because it does connect with the college of professional studies,” Devers said. “It made sense that it would be that inner connection between McGurrin Hall and the new building because of the involvement with nursing, counseling, OT [occupational therapy], PT [physical therapy] and exercise science.”
Construction of the rehabilitation center was ready to begin in May, Devers said, after the Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) gave approval for a Young Women’s Christian Association tribute wall on the interior of the building and the use of the existing north portico on the outside. HARB originally had concerns about the demolition of Leahy Hall because it is on Scranton’s historic register.
In addition to HARB, The University had issues with city council and the zoning board of Scranton, which led to a delay that lasted the entire summer.
“We had to go through several meetings, we had to convince council members that this was the right thing to do, and eventually with a 3-2 vote of city council we were finally approved for a certificate of appropriateness,” Devers said. “This allowed us to demolish the building.”
Originally, the plan was to see if Leahy Hall could be renovated in order to save the building, Devers said. However, a feasibility study conducted by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering Firm found that Leahy Hall was not big enough for the out of classroom programs, space needs and requirements of these majors.
According to The University’s website, renovations have been made to Loyal Hall of Science for the occupational therapy and physical therapy programs as well as the counseling center to relocate until construction of the new building is complete.
“Our goal was to get as many students up to this end of campus [Loyola Hall area] so they would not be impacted by the construction,” Devers said. “That is why we moved the advising center up here as well.”
Devers said the new rehabilitation center will be finished by the start of the 2015 academic year. At that time, plans to take down Loyal Hall of Science will be made in order to open up the area surrounding The Estate.
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