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Funds complete for building project

Nikki Taylor | Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When the 2008 fall semester begins at Saint Mary’s this August, students will attend many classes in a building completed after the most expensive construction project in College history.

Spes Unica Hall is a new academic building currently under construction on the northeast side of campus. Fundraising for the building has recently been completed, and the building is set to open for classes in the fall.

The total cost of the project is $19.2 million, making it the most expensive construction project in College history. The building was entirely paid for in donations, without putting to use any other college funds, said Saint Mary’s spokesperson Gwen O’Brien. More than 600 donations came in from faculty, staff, alumnae, students and friends of the College, she said.

College President Carol Ann Mooney said the opening of the building will allow continued growth at Saint Mary’s.

“This building represents our future – a future that will see us ever more ambitious and ever more widely recognized for the excellent education of women,” she said. “I am most grateful to our donors for their commitment to our mission and vision.”

The building’s name, Spes Unica, is Latin for “our only hope” and refers to the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the motto of both Saint Mary’s and the College’s founding order, the Congregation of Holy Cross.

The name was chosen by one of the significant donors to the project, O’Brien said.

“A number of names for the academic building were considered; however, when the name Spes Unica was considered, it spoke to our mission,” said Shari Rodriguez, vice president of College Relations.

Ground was broken on this 65,000 square-foot building in the fall of 2006. Spes Unica will house 13 of the 20 academic departments at Saint Mary’s, as well as the Center for Academic Innovation, the Center for Spirituality and the Center for Women’s InterCultural Leadership. The new building offers state of the art classroom, laboratory and office space. There are also a number of common areas where faculty and students can gather, such as a café, reflection room and patio.

The features of Spes Unica will facilitate its role as a place to integrate various aspects of College life, Mooney said.

“One of the hallmarks of a Saint Mary’s education is that students and faculty work and learn together,” Mooney said. “Collaborative work requires the kind of spaces that will be found in this new building.

“This first-rate facility will match the quality of our faculty and reflect the value that we place on them and on the learning environment for our students.”

Spes Unica also utilizes “green” or environmentally-friendly materials. There are solar panels to help heat the hot water system, furniture and carpeting made from recycled materials, large areas of glass for extra lighting and operable windows to increase airflow. The building was designed by Ballinger Architects of Philadelphia and Architecture Design Group of South Bend.

With the opening of the new building, the current main academic building, Madeleva Hall, will get a minor facelift but will remain in use as an important classroom facility.

“The Madeleva Interior Renovation Committee, consisting of faculty, students and administrators, is working with architects to assess needs and plan the interior renovation of the Madeleva building,” Rodriguez said.