The Camden mayor joined U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Pheobe Haddon and others on October 13 morning on a hard hat tour of the university’s new Nursing and Science Building, a striking 100,000-square-foot structure under construction at Fifth and Federal streets, the site of a former Camden Parking Authority lot.
The $62.5 million building cuts an impressive swath in the middle of a downtown in the process of revitalization, its three sides framed by City Hall, the NJ Transit RiverLine and Broadway.
It’s part of the “meds and eds” corridor taking shape in the city, as institutions including Rutgers, Rowan University and Cooper University Hospital expand their respective footprints.
The building’s main entrance, at the sharp angle of the RiverLine at Fifth and Federal streets, will offer about 1,000 graduate and undergraduate students a place to study a variety of disciplines, including nursing, biology, chemistry and physics.
As construction workers welded and wove wires and installation through the building’s steel frame, Norcross, a former electrician and union official, admired their handiwork.
“I see town hall meetings in my future here,” he joked as the group entered a first-floor lecture hall with tiered seating to accommodate about 120 people,” Rep. Norcross said.
“Another lecture hall, on the second floor,” the Congressman said, “features a layout that Haddon said will encourage a collaborative approach to learning, with instructors interacting with students, the lectern placed in the middle of the room and a big screen for students to project their work in real time.”
Three retail spaces of about 3,000 square feet each will anchor the building to the street. Project manager Arnie Vicidonini said the university was in discussions with one potential tenant, but declined to say who.
A cafe off the main entrance, with enclosed seating with views of City Hall, Roosevelt Park and Fifth Street, will welcome visitors with high ceilings extending to the third floor.
Norcross said he was impressed with the progress so far, and talked about how he believes medical and educational facilities like this one are crucial to Camden's resurgence.
"We've seen this in the last few years," said the Democrat, a city resident. "This will train the new generation of medical professionals, including nurses and other health care workers.
"This can bring Camden back to the powerhouse that it once was."
The second floor includes six laboratories in addition to the smaller lecture hall, while the third floor will house simulation labs and other instructional and office space.
A large, open lounge will offer students a view of the Philadelphia skyline, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Roosevelt Park and City Hall at the building's sharpest angle, at Fifth and Federal.
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