The University of Idaho Administration Building is under construction yet again as part of a multi-phase renovation project that began in 2003.
The construction has required several offices in the building to be temporarily relocated to accommodate the construction that includes the completion of an updated central heating and cooling system. The updated system will save money in the long run but will cost about $1.1 million up front.
“This phase completes the distribution duct work to all the spaces on the south half of the building – north half is in a future phase,” said Guy Esser, project architect for Architectural and Engineering Services.
The project is state-funded through the Permanent Building Fund which receives money every year from the state and is administered by the Division of Public Works in the state of Idaho. Alteration and repair projects vary from year to year but generally cost 2 – 2.5 million.
Esser said other projects this year include re-roofs, steam tunnel repairs around the Idaho Commons, Memorial Gym tower stabilization and other small renovations.
Esser said the ceilings in the building are old and many are difficult to access.
He said the most heavily impacted rooms in the building are on the first floor and include the College of Letters Arts and Social Sciences offices and the general council office.
The CLASS offices have been temporarily relocated to the old bookstore space on the second floor of the commons.
Katherine Aiken dean for CLASS said the offices were first relocated in June. She said the process went smoothly because people did a lot of work to get ready, but everyone had to move every single item out of their offices. The CLASS department worked with facilities to plan out the space in the commons in order to accommodate all 13 people in the CLASS offices.
“Facilities and the people in this college worked really hard to make all that happen with as little angst as possible,” Aiken said.
With the school year fast approaching Aiken said the move hasn’t impacted the office’s ability to serve students.
“I think everything’s pretty much business as usual,” Aiken said. “I would suspect we will probably move (back in) at the end of the semester…October is a really busy month for students and us.”
Aiken said with almost 4,000 students registered in CLASS the office stays busy during the year.
“During the semester…we have a lot of student traffic in this office every single day, and so I would hesitate to be closed even a couple of days,” Aiken said.
Esser said the ITS wing of the Administration Building will also undergo construction but there was not room to relocate the offices until the other spaces are completed.
The impact on the second and third floors of the building has been minimal, Esser said. The exception is the Journalism and Mass Media offices located in the south wing of the building. The main administration for JAMM is temporarily located in the Radio-TV studio behind the building.
“All the classrooms will be ready to go by mid-August. We hope to have all the faculty on the third floor back in their offices by mid-August,” Esser said.
He said the first and second floor occupants will probably be out of their offices longer because they’re concentrating on classrooms and faculty office spaces right now.
The general council offices are relocated to the Facilities building and could be out until October.
“There may be detours and annoyances in (the second floor) hallway but we have to leave access to the elevator open. We are hoping for the most part, except for finding the CLASS offices, for students it should be business as usual,” Esser said.
Esser said the goal is to update and equip all buildings on campus with a centralized heating and cooling system that can be controlled from the central power plant.
“(The old units) are horribly inefficient. They break down quickly, they run out quickly…we’re trying to get all the buildings on campus set up with modern centralized heating, ventilation, and cooling systems that can be controlled from the central power plant…set points, temperatures…all that can be monitored. It’s way more efficient from an energy standpoint to run the building.”
Matt Maw and Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at email@example.com