By SEAN KINNEY firstname.lastname@example.org
Construction of a new $5.6 million marine propulsion building is progressing quickly on Florida Keys Community College’s main Stock Island campus in advance of a planned October opening.
Contractor Ajax Building Corp., with offices in Tallahassee and Jacksonville, started site work in December, laid the foundation in February and the three-story building has taken shape with the addition of concrete tilt walls, which started May 10.
The facility was designed by firm Hayes Cummings Architects of St. Petersburg, the same group that planned FKCC’s $8.2 million, 100-bed Lagoon Landing dormitory, which opened in August 2011.
College spokeswoman Amber Ernst-Leonard said faculty and staff from the Marine Science and Technology division “were heavily involved in the design process to ensure maximum functionality and learning.”
“We could not be more excited to provide our students with the much-needed, upgraded facility,” she said.
Ernst-Leonard described the layout: “The ground floor will be an open area used for boat and trailer storage. The second floor will be used for instruction and will have two labs and a testing room. The third floor will house two classrooms that can be divided to create four classrooms, a conference room, a shower/locker room, as well as faculty offices.”
The ground floor and classrooms will be connected with a hoisting system that “will allow boat engines to be easily transferred from the storage area right into the diesel lab for the students to work on,” Ernst-Leonard said.
In the works since 2007, the 30,000-square-foot building was originally slated for a fall 2009 opening and projected to cost around $4 million. The availability of state Public Education Capital Outlay dollars and several redesigns have delayed the project.
FKCC’s marine program offers classes in seamanship, gasoline and diesel engine repair and maintenance, welding and fiberglass work. Depending on the course track, successful completion can result in an associate’s degree in marine engineering, management and seamanship or a certificate in marine propulsion. For those interested, the contractor has set up a live webcam showing the construction site; that’s available at: https://www.ajaxbuilding.com/fkccmarinewebcam/.