Ocean County College is beginning construction on a brand new, two story, student center.

Ilya Hemlin (Townsquare Media NJ)

College president Dr. Jon Larson and members of the Board of Trustees broke ground Monday on the new structure, which is set for completion in eighteen months.

“It’s the state of the art and it’s going to be a beautiful structure,” said Larson.

The facility is slated to be 56,000 square feet, energy efficient, and fully integrated for multimedia (including speakers, monitors, and internet).

Plans indicate a new larger cafeteria will seat 380 people, (roughly 200 more people than the current cafeteria) and feature touch screen food ordering kiosks and be integrated with a smartphone app for call ahead orders.

In addition to room for officers, plans are set for a 100 person student lounge, multiple conference rooms, club rooms, “noisy” rooms with large screen TV’s for gaming, quiet study rooms, as well as a Starbucks coffee bar and outdoor patio with seating.

Larson says the amenities are designed to provide students with more comfort and connection with their peers, which is especially important for a commuting institution like OCC.

“Without that [place for students to spend their time] it’s not the same, it really does not carry with it, for many students, the same educational environment as at a residential college where you’re there all the time.”

The new facility will also be used to accommodate OCC’s expanding student body, including the college’s continued partnership with Kean University.

“We are looking at some five addition Kean building sites over there and four OCC sites over here,” said Larson.

The technological aspects of the building will have educational benefits as well. Larson pointed out being fully integrated with wireless internet will allow students and teachers to communicate more seamlessly.

“All the wireless access opportunities that are available today, you can basically stay in connection with everybody else, all your classmates and professors, no matter where you are-day or night.”