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  October 12, 2004

Facelifts For Health Center Meeting Spaces

Two Health Center meeting spaces - the Chief Gabriel Chike Michael Onyiuke Dining Room and the Link Room - are being upgraded.

The Onyiuke Dining Room, adjacent to the Food Court, was formerly known as the Faculty/Staff Dining Room. The Link Room, soon to be dedicated as the Henry B.C. Low Learning Center, is adjacent to the TV studio on the ground floor of the C building.

The names of both rooms derive from benefactors who enabled their extensive renovations.

The Onyiuke Room will be reconfigured and the furnishing and finishes will be upgraded.

"The Onyiuke Room is going to be a first-class room," says Thomas Trutter, director of planning and construction. "It will have a more dignified look and feel about it."

Thanks to Low's gift, the Link Room, soon to be the Low Learning Center, will be gutted and entirely redone.

"The Low Learning Center is going to be a high-tech, sophisticated, state-of-the-art facility when it's completed," says William Hengstenberg, director of video communications. Hengstenberg's office operates the current Link Room. "The new room, in Dr. Low's words, will be 'elegant'."

In 2003, the dining room was named in honor of the father of Dr. Hilary Onyiuke, an assistant professor of surgery and a neurosurgeon, who made a substantial donation to the Health Center. Dr. Onyiuke's father was a Queen's Counsel and former attorney general of Nigeria. The room was built and equipped when the three-story Canzonetti Building was erected in 1994.

Trutter says that, with the help of architectural and design consultants from New Haven, the room will reflect the Onyiuke family's Nigerian background, with references to their country in the finish and the artwork.

The room will be reconfigured to allow for greater flexibility. The entrance will be relocated on the Food Court side, the entrance signs accentuated and improved, and the room's audiovisuals switched to the opposite wall. The room will be equipped with new furniture and audiovisual equipment will be upgraded and integrated into the furnishings.

"When it's done it will reflect a hospitality finish rather than an institutional one," he says.

Work on the room will start soon and is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.

The Link Room dates back to the construction of the Health Center in the early 1970's. It was always intended as a videoconferenci ng room - a pioneering step at the time - and its audiovisual equipment, control apparatus, and communications gear have been upgraded many times. But the room itself has not been renovated since it was built.

The renovations are funded by a gift from Dr. Henry B.C. Low, a clinical professor of surgery and director of the Hartford Hospital Heart Transplant Program. His association with the video communications office goes back to the early 1980's, when its staff videotaped his team preparing for Hartford Hospital's first human heart transplant. He has also participated in videoconferen ces, both from the Link Room and on the receiving end at Hartford.

The Low Learning Center will have a new entrance, new floors, walls, ceilings, lights, and furnishing. Video control apparatus, which now occupies a prominent place in the rear of the room, will be reinstalled next door so it can be operated by remote control.

The room is being designed with a personal touch too, says Hengstenberg.

"We're going to display photos of Dr. Low in surgery and in class," Hengstenberg says. "We'll hang newspaper stories and articles and items that help define the donor on the walls so people can see them. It's important for those who use this room to know who Dr. Low is."

The project is going out to bid this week. Renovations are expected to be completed in early spring.