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Editorial: NCI’s plan holds hope
Sunday, April 8, 2012
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But one word — hope — best describes the picture of the New College Institute’s proposed building.
NCI’s plans show a three-story, 50,000-square-foot building on the Baldwin Block in uptown Martinsville. It carries Dr. Dana O. Baldwin’s legacy of business and philanthropic leadership into the 21st century.
The plans are noteworthy for several reasons. First, they recognize that education is changing, and students now learn differently than they did in the past, thanks in large part to constantly changing technology. The entire facility would be equipped accordingly so it can change as students’ needs change.
Second, the building is designed to train students for advanced manufacturing in two special pods. This curriculum and programs in health care and other areas are envisioned to attract businesses and industries which rely on trained employees in those fields. The idea that this building is aligning its programs with jobs for today and the future is especially appealing.
Third, the facility is intended to fit into, and enhance, the community via its design as well as NCI’s programs. Its wood and brick exterior reflects the neighborhood around it, and officials hope to include aspects of the area’s past in its design, such as bricks from historic buildings. It would have plenty of room for community events, from proms and lectures to civic meetings and even possibly a revival of the June German Ball of the past, as NCI Executive Director William Wampler envisions it.
All of this shows the community what the future can hold — a modern building with students learning skills that will bring businesses here, raise the standard of living and ensure a prosperous future for them and their children. It also shows how uptown could become a college campus involving numerous buildings and holding the promise of bustling businesses serving students and faculty alike.
This transformation will not happen overnight. The lot for the new building must be donated by the city and $10 million to $15 million must be raised to make it a reality. Yet with a picture of the building and grounds in their minds, people can focus on the possibilities, not the past.