LeChase Hall FAQ

When will the building be available?
Construction of Raymond F. LeChase Hall is planned to begin April 2011. We expect the construction phase to take about 18 to 24 months, after which additional time will be needed to furnish the building. If everything goes according to schedule, the Warner School of Education is expected to move into the new building by early 2013.
Will LeChase Hall be built to environmental sustainability standards?
The building has been designed striving to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver standards, the University’s standard goal. Some recycling measurements that may affect the end result can only be done during the construction process, but the design and materials reflect our commitment to creating a sustainable home for the Warner School.

Among the plans for the project toward sustainable design is the availability of a shower and bike racks for alternative transportation; landscape plantings that do not require irrigation; use of finishes/materials with recycled content; use of rapidly renewable materials; use of natural lighting to light significant portions of the space, and controllability of lighting systems everywhere; and use of water, energy and atmosphere systems that optimize performance and reduce waste.
What is the design for access to the building for people in wheelchairs?
The building meets all Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and incorporates many universal design principles that exceed the standards and allow direct access to the most frequently trafficked classroom area of the building.
One of the unique challenges that this building poses from a design perspective is that it has two complementary uses—providing a home for the Warner School (concentrated on the second through fourth floors) and providing classrooms that will be used for undergraduate classes during the day and Warner classes in the evening (first floor). 
The uses of the building have led us to create two sets of primary entrances—the large front staircase, which leads to the second floor Warner atrium, and two sets of double door entrances right below each side of the stair-cased entrance, with gentle slopes on both sides leading into the 14 classrooms and the central elevator leading to the upper floors.  When approaching the building from the parking areas and key academic buildings on campus, users of and visitors to LeChase Hall will approach these direct access entries from both sides of the building, even before reaching the staircase. These entries have been designed for universal access, nicely landscaped and integrated into the architecture, for everyone to use to conveniently enter and exit the building and the classroom area.  Given the elevation, we needed to make a choice about which floor should be the one most easily accessible, and we opted for the one with the most traffic and use by students.  

LeChase Artist Rendering

LeChase Artist Rendering

LeChase Artist Rendering

Even though the building is entirely accessible and exceeds ADA requirements, some individuals (including some members of our own faculty and staff) have expressed the concern that the imposing staircase to the second floor, which is not directly accessible to people in wheelchairs, may seem exclusive and therefore problematic. After working extensively with the University facilities team and the architects for the project, we have concluded that at this point in the construction, there is no satisfactory way to provide direct wheelchair access to the building’s 2nd floor. The overall design direction and elevation do not allow for any safe or welcoming ramp or lift solution.

Please note that once people enter the building, the facility is fully accessible and wheelchair friendly. In addition to handicapped restroom facilities throughout, we also created a private “family” restroom on the classroom level that will allow for caregiver assistance. The elevator is located in the middle of the building, with a central staircase wrapping around it, for simple and intuitive navigation of the building. And classrooms, kitchens, offices, and all other spaces are easily accessible by wheelchair.

The many discussions with faculty, staff, the architects, people with disabilities, and others led us to do a thorough review of all aspects of the building for safety and ease of use. First, we took a closer look at the accessible entrances at the classroom level and made some modifications there to make these areas even more welcoming, safe, and functional. The new plan incorporate both ramps and steps to accommodate a variety of mobility needs.

During this review, we also learned that the building was designed and approved under ADA building codes which have since been revised, and we pressed for modifications to meet the new code. Most notably, we have expanded the stairwell landings and communication systems to create safe spaces for rescue in the event of an emergency. In addition, we have added door pads to many more public spaces throughout the building for easy entrance and egress.
What are the arrangements for student study and research space in the building? 
In the heart of the building, we have created a 1,600-square-foot student center, which will include a mailroom and lounge, as well as a large study space for doctoral students with lockers, carrels, and open tables. Students will have access to a kitchenette, with a sink, refrigerator, and microwave in an alcove just outside the student center.
The student center is located right next to the technology classroom and technology lab. Students will have full access to printers and computers with research software at all times, even when classes are in session in the technology classroom.
Students will also have access to breakout rooms and open common areas for work on group projects and casual interaction. Just outside the student center, there is a beautiful bridge lounge that seats 24 with expansive windows overlooking the Wilson Quadrangle. The 1,250-square-foot multipurpose event space will also be available to students, when not in use for scheduled events or meetings, for quiet study.
Does the building include a café or coffee station?
No. LeChase Hall is located right next to Wilson Commons, the main student center on campus that includes Starbucks and an extensive food court.
The Warner building will have five accessible kitchenettes for use by faculty, students, and staff, as well as a large catering kitchen for events. Vending machines will be located on the classroom level for quick and easy access to snacks and drinks.