When first walking into the newly renovated TJC planetarium a stream of colors pops off the window and a strange metal object sitting on a display table. It is an actual picture taken by the Hubble space telescope that is orbiting the earth.
Since January 2010, infrastructure projects totaling $26.5 million have been completed including more than five miles of underground piping, HVAC capacity upgrades in the Wise Auditorium, HVAC replacement in Potter Hall, Jenkins Hall and Vaughn Library; roof replacements in the library and Ornelas Health and Physical Center; HVAC upgrades at the West Campus and the central plant. Up- grades also include the Wagstaff Gym educational facilities renovation.
While visiting the newly renovated planetarium, standing there in the Great Ball of Fire exhibit, Tom Hooten, professor of Physics/ Director Hudnall Planetarium said visitors are standing in the same building that was built in 1963.
Several interactive exhibits are in the planetarium. Among the many there are “Hit or Miss” where there are interactive games to play including “Drop an Asteroid on your Town.” Where entering your zip code allows the radius of destruction that can occur, “We really want to increase science literacy,” said Hooten.
The construction team has added more than $1.8 million in preservation projects and more than $350,000 has been spent in parking lot improvements.
The new planetarium is 40 ft in diameter, stadium style seating, as well as digital surround sound.
“The primary reason we started renovating the planetarium was to further science education by having a strong bond with our local TISD. Globally our test scores in math and science are lower. Second- ary, we wanted the planetarium to be a multi purpose planetarium. It could be used for fundraisers and an astrology lab class. Starting September we’ll even have Friday night rock shows,” said King.
Two projects still set to complete are Resident life and Housing Renovation in January 2012 and the Potter Hall eleva– tor in March 2012.
The Residential Life office will temporally be located in the Ornelas Residential complex during construction.
“Before if we wanted to meet with our student’s parents we would have had to meet in the lobby. Now we’ll actually have a meeting area as well as increase our customer service levels.,” said Bill King Executive Director – Facilities and
A new elevator will increase accessibility to Potter Hall.
“We found architects that would meet Texas Accessibility Standards, which are a lot tougher to meet than ADA standards” said King.