Building C Updates: An interview with Eli Meroz, Director of Studies
What are some updates you can tell us about the new building?
The building is progressing quite well. We expect that the building will be ready around March or April. We may use the building for the summer session which is more for international students. Our hope is that by September, everything is back to normal and students are in class. Then, we will need the other building which will certainly be ready by then.
Has there been any changes in the building plans?
Whenever you do construction, there are a lot of little issues that can come up but not anything that a student would notice.
There are two points to the building which some may see as an interesting feature and others may say that it’s a big waste of money. If you look at the design of the building, the bricks on the facade of the building will be taken from the original bank which used to be there. The city required that we preserve those bricks and find a way to integrate them into the construction of the new building to pay homage to the old building. We find it silly, frankly, to use old bricks on a brand new building but they would not give us a permit if we would not integrate that element.
Another thing we have is what is called a corten wall. I personally don’t like it, others may think it’s really incredible. It will be used on both the front and back of the building. It’s going to be perforated. That's a very expensive element to the building. It was not part of our intended design but the city would not approve our design of the building unless we came up with something very funky. We just kept coming with more and more plans. They were shooting them all down until we finally came up with this one and they said ok fine, now you can get your permit.
How do you think this new building will change the school?
First of all, it will give us the ability to greet many more students. The more students that we can greet, the more diverse and dynamic the type of population that we can have will be.
The other difference will be in our visibility. People want to be part of a school that is growing and visible. It will be a beautiful building and there is a certain pride in being part of a school that’s growing, visible, successful and whose graduates are doing very well.
I also see it as a place for students’ to gather. By having a library in the new building, the large staircase where you can sit on cushions, a work area and nice furniture, it’ll be a beautiful place for students to hang around and feel like they belong.
Another thing that it’s going to do is that by having this library and extra classrooms in the new building, we are going to be changing the gym services. Right now, we have a gym on the sixth floor. We are going to be bringing the gym down to the second floor of building A. We are planning to use the whole second floor which was originally the idea in this building. What is currently the Mac lab will be the weight room. The two huge rooms that we have right now will be transformed. One will be geared towards cardiovascular exercise activities like ellipticals, treadmills and rowing machines. The other room will be used as a studio for dance, zumba or any kind of group fitness classes that we may need.
Students will have access to the gym for free and then we might bring people from the outside so we can justify bringing in many more group activities. By having these additional services, I think it will greatly enhance the students' experiences.
How have you been preparing for the school's expansion?
The problem with preparation right now is that we are all in the dark. I am functioning on the assumption that we are going to be greeting students but it’s not clear. We have a couple of new staff members who are going to be starting. We’ve been expanding our programs. A lot of our teachers are part time and they are interested in working more hours. We’ve been adding extra programs and we are currently in the process of hiring teachers and coordinators for them. It’s an ongoing process. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves because we are not a hundred percent sure what is going to happen in September. We might have to do things in phases.
One thing that TAV is known for is the family and homey feeling. With such a big expansion coming up, what are the foreseeable implications it’ll have on the school’s atmosphere?
I’ve been with the college for twenty five years. It’s the only way I know how to function. This is the type of staff we try to hire. It is our mission statement to create that type of environment. We absolutely want to maintain that. The fact that we have a new building, I don’t think it’ll change it.
We have been very proud of this homey atmosphere and that we are able to maintain that in the face of such a tremendous diversity of clientele. If you look at the mix that we have here, none of the conflicts or animosities which may exist are allowed to spill over here. It’s not because we have to actively stop it but it’s because we actively try to create an atmosphere where everyone works together. When you get down to it, everyone really wants the same things and so there isn’t much of a difference between people. We try to focus on that.
We are hoping that places for students to get together and the study rooms will enhance the approach that we’ve embraced until now.
We will obviously run into some hiccups along the way because as you grow, there are some growing pains. We’re ready for it and very optimistic.