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New Rutgers Visitor Center Aims to 'Wow' Prospective Students
For a fact sheet about the building, click here.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – They say first impressions mean a lot. So it’s not surprising that the gleaming new Rutgers Visitor Center on the Busch Campus has prospective students buzzing even before they see the rest of the university on their initial visit to Rutgers.
From the 42-foot-long “scarlet wall” to the interactive computer exhibits, the center is designed to offer a memorable welcome to first-time visitors and to serve as a source of pride as well as a gathering place for the university community.
“We wanted it to have the ‘wow’ factor for prospective students,” said Courtney McAnuff, vice president for enrollment management. “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
But the new center has more than a dazzling appearance. The 12,000- square-foot, two-story visitor building was constructed for very practical purposes: to accommodate the thousands of prospective students and family members who visit the campus annually as well as provide meeting and banquet space for campus and alumni groups and organizations.
While Undergraduate Admissions has been hosting tours at the center since mid-September, the building had its official opening on Oct. 21. President Richard L. McCormick welcomed the university community and guests for a ribbon cutting and open house.
Among the guests were representatives of the Rutgers Class of 1951, whose members donated $700,000 for the scarlet wall and other multimedia exhibits. Other alumni have given $66,000 toward high-tech features that will engage and inform visitors about the history and accomplishments of the university and its people.
“It is gratifying that the Class of 1951 and other Rutgers alumni have chosen to make the new visitor center part of their legacy to the university,” McCormick said. “For years to come, future Rutgers students will be introduced to our history, accomplishments and people in an exciting, contemporary setting that befits a great institution.”
The visitor center sits high on Sutphen Road off Route 18 in Piscataway amidst fields that fill with tailgaters on football game days. A super-sized block “R” on a towering red exterior wall is a beacon to visitors, clearly visible from many points on the Busch Campus. Ample parking is available across the street, along with a campus bus stop that enables visitors to connect with public transportation in New Brunswick.
Designed by the Biber Partnership AIA of Summit and constructed by Michael Riesz & Co. of Fords, the $7.54-million building incorporates some material elements of other Busch Campus structures. Perforated stainless steel screens that minimize the sun through its windows, recycled-content products and low water-use plumbing are among its green features.
The expansive lobby features two-story-high windows and the glow-in-the-night “scarlet wall” – a 42-foot-long-by-eight-foot-high multimedia exhibit that offers a visual and interactive tour of the university’s three main campuses on one side and a Rutgers timeline on the other. The exhibit was designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates of New York. The firm’s work includes the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Newseum in Washington, D.C., and NASCAR Hall of Fame under construction in Charlotte, N.C.
Plans also call for an interactive table exhibit that will enable multiple visitors to download information about the university, and virtual Rutgers yearbooks that can be perused on touch screens.
First-floor meeting space includes a great room that can accommodate 380 for meetings or 250 for banquets. This room can be partitioned for smaller meetings. Also planned is a panoramic frieze with historic and traditional campus scenes, designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, on the double-height soffit surrounding the great room. The custom-designed signature “R” carpeting in the meeting areas already has drawn admiring comments.
In 2008-09, more than 42,000 people went on admissions tours – an increase of 179 percent since 2003. The former welcome center inside historic, but tiny Van Nest Hall on the College Avenue Campus had become inadequate and the use of space inside Busch Campus Center strained that building’s capacity. Parking was a perennial problem that hardly contributed to a positive first impression, McAnuff said.
By contrast, the new building is projected to host as many as 170,000 visitors a year for tours and other events once fully operational.
Located at 100 Sutphen Road, Piscataway, the center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and two hours prior to kickoff on football game days, as well as for select weekend tour dates. Register for admissions tours. Directions to the Rutgers Visitor Center. For more information, call 732-445-1000.
Media Contact: Sandra Lanman
732-932-7084, ext. 621