Quinnipiac to install temporary modular labs near CAS amid higher space demand

Chatwan Mongkol, News Editor

The Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission approved Quinnipiac University’s application to build a 6,400-square-foot one-story modular building for classrooms and labs in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) parking lot on May 11.

The town only approved the permit for two of the three years the university requested. Quinnipiac attorney Bernard Pellegrino said at the hearing that this modular building will be a temporary use until there is a permanent location for labs, as well as for temporary faculty offices that the town approved in 2019.

Space in the temporary modular building will be ready to use in the fall 2021 semester. (Chatwan Mongkol)

Vice President for Facilities and Capital Planning Sal Filardi said students can expect to use the space in the fall 2021 semester.

“The need for these science labs in a temporary way so that we can get through to the next phase of an academic building that will adequately deal with this has been one of the critical problems we have faced,” said Debra Liebowitz, provost.

Liebowitz explained at the hearing that the need for physical distance worsened the problem as the university had to de-densify the spaces it had.

Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences Lise Thomas said at the hearing that the proposed laboratory building will directly impact students and faculty in the department. She said there currently is a high demand for lab space as students become more interested in the sciences.

“This poses some logistical challenges because the students are taking (an) increasing number of laboratory classes,” Thomas said. “Currently the demand for our lab room is so high that many of our lab rooms are now in use from 8 a.m. through 9:30 p.m.”

School of Nursing Lab Coordinator Donna Diaz also said at the hearing that nursing students require space for real quality exponential and hands-on learning experience before entering their clinical.

“We do need this enhanced space for our current student body,” Diaz said.

Modular labs’ layout and furniture plan Quinnipiac University submitted to the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission. (Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission)

With ongoing constructions and the 10-year master facilities plan, Vice President and Chief of Staff Bethany Zemba said at the hearing that the university sometimes hears concerns about the growth of the student body. She noted that Quinnipiac does not plan to increase the size right now, and the size will remain the same if not smaller.

Some Hamden residents were against the approval of this particular application because they are not sure what this plan and the overall master plan will lead to.

“The plans have not been visible to us, to the abutters until just right now in tonight’s meeting (May 11), first time that we had a chance to see a footprint of this plan,” said Sarah Sedgwick Heath, a Hamden resident. “I know there’s a 10-year master plan on the web, again, there are no maps there, no indication of where this exactly abuts.”

Zemba said she is willing to meet with concerned residents to go over the plan and answer any questions to keep them informed.

Another resident, Susan Patel, wrote in an email to the commission’s clerk before the public hearing that Quinnipiac should use the current labs if it could.

“If they need more room for new projects then add extra, but do not demolish old and build new to put financial burden on students,” Patel wrote. “Quinnipiac should keep in mind to keep cost less to keep students out of big debts.”