Wheatley Center is designed for expansion

Anthony DeSimone, Contributor

The Wheatley Center at Robert Morris University has been designed with expansion in mind.

The Wheatley Center is currently the home of the School of Communication and Information Systems at RMU. According the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the building’s current size is around 50,000 square feet. Inside the walls of the Wheatley Center, there are general classrooms, lounge seating areas, faculty offices, media arts rooms and equipment, computer labs, and a café.

Aside from these amenities, there is a hidden aspect to the design of this building. Bill Joyce, the university architect for RMU, explained that the design of the building is conducive for expansion if the students and faculty needed more space.

“The expansion would include adding more office space and a few new classrooms,” Joyce said. Currently, the building has classrooms on the first floor and most of its offices on the second and third floors. Joyce said that the added classrooms would have a general purpose design so that other majors and departments could use the rooms.

Though expansion is a possibility, Joyce did explain that there are two issues that will limit the expansion of the building. He talked about how there is a stormwater management system that is located behind the building.

Additionally, there is a hillside located at the back of the building which would present a challenge, should the university ever decide to expand the building. Joyce explained that the hillside would cause the design of the building to possibly include creating another floor. The additional floor would help to compensate for the slope of the hill.

One of the main benefits of expanding the Wheatley Center is that it would allow the Academic Media Center or AMC to be moved into the building. The AMC is the media production facility for the RMU campus. They focus on live studio productions, video programs, live sports and radio productions. The AMC is currently located in the Patrick Henry building, which is on the other side of the RMU campus.

Karin Martin, a project planner for the office of facilities planning at RMU, feels that the expansion of the Wheatley Center is a good idea as she believes that the AMC should be with all the other communication and arts curriculum. “It would definitely get all of the media in the right space,” Martin said. Though she does believe this expansion is necessary, she said that the project is “on the backburner.”

Jon Radermacher, associate dean for the School of Communication and Information Systems, agrees with Martin. “I haven’t heard a whiff of adding on (to the Wheatley Center), even though we are out of space,” Radermacher said.

He explained that there was an error in the renovation design of the building back in 2012. Prior to the renovation, the building was called the Wayne Center and it was the home of the RMU facilities management team.

The initial plans were designed to have 10 open office spaces when the renovation of the building was completed. However, Radermcaher said that there were only three vacant offices instead. Due to the design error, he said that the faculty members of the Wheatley Center have been “lucky that space has not been a major issue.”

Radermacher expressed his interest in expanding the building and explained that there are two major benefits that he believes the expansion would bring. The first benefit would be alleviating the office space issue for faculty members. The second benefit would be creating a lab space for the Computer Information Systems program.

Though Radermacher is concerned about the office space for the faculty members, he explained that he is more focused on the idea of creating a “home base for the students.”

You (students) think of Wheatley as yours and that’s what we have been going for all along.

— Jon Radermacher

“You (students) think of Wheatley as yours and that’s what we have been going for all along,” Radermacher said.