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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Wang Center on the Forefront of Modern Eductation

    The construction costs of the Charles B. Wang Asian-American Center were originally estimated at $25 million, but that total appears to increase by the day. The cost of the building has grown exponentially with its size, which stands now at a volume of three-quarters of a million cubic feet.

    Computer Associates International, Inc. (CA) Chairman and CEO Charles B. Wang is funding the project with what is the largest private endowment in the history of the SUNY system.

    “This gift represents a major step forward for multi-cultural education at the University,” Stony Brook President Shirley Strum Kenney said. “The generosity of Mr. Wang means that Stony Brook will be alone among major universities in having a dedicated center specifically built to meet the unique technological requirements of advanced cross-cultural programs.”

    The concept was presented in 1996 as a building borne of Asian architectural style but using Western construction materials, like brick and stucco.

    “It?s designed to be very experiential,” Dexter Chen of P.H. Tuan, one of the architectural firms leading the project. “He [Wang] wants to make this building feel large so that visitors can spend an entire day here exploring nooks and crannies.”

    The facility is situated on a four-acre site adjacent to the Staller Center for the Performing Arts. It is slated for completion in September of this year, but even the designers have acknowledged that this expectation may be unrealistic, though the work is cited as 90% finished.

    The Wang Center is filled with large open spaces, winding stairwells, and exotic water structures. Near the south entrance of the building, bronze-cast Chinese Zodiac heads, with waterfall mouths, are situated over a small pond where a conceptual topographic map of Asia will eventually be created. A hall directly off of the east entrance boasts a large still water pond.

    “It?s a wonderful space,” Chen said.

    There are several art galleries in the building, a 300-seat theatre with a projection booth, and a marriage chapel. Two massive octagonal windows behind the theatre?s stage provide ample lighting for performances?at least on sunny days. The walls of the small chapel will be textured with a bamboo design.

    Two high-tech lecture halls will offer the latest in fiber-optic technology, allowing for transmission of data and real-time video during teleconferences. Rooms on the third and fourth floors are multi-use, and will probably house a variety of meetings and events.

    The food court can service 300 people and will offer Asian cuisine at eight kiosks near the west entrance of the Center. The food court opens onto the terrace, where a lush Asian garden will be planted for visitors to enjoy.

    “The Asian American Center will be the catalyst for numerous academic, technical, cultural, and business initiatives,” Wang said. “When participants have a greater understanding of each other’s history and culture, such programs will always have a better chance of success.”

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