Campus construction projects to be completed on schedule
While the noise and closed roads brought on by the construction sites around campus may not seem immediately beneficial, Director of Architecture and Engineering Services Ray Pankopf said he views the sites as visions of the future.
“These projects were born out of a need for growth,” Pankopf said. “That’s actually the first step of construction — seeing a need and designing a facility for the future.”
The two primary projects on campus are the construction of the Integrated Research Innovation Center (IRIC) and the reconstruction of the Education Building.
Both buildings first underwent construction in fall 2014 and crews have been making progress ever since, Pankopf said.
While the IRIC is reported to be ahead of schedule, he said the Education Building is a more complicated project due to the amount of asbestos in the building’s materials.
“The building was constructed in the late ‘60s, and a lot of the building materials contain asbestos,” Pankopf said. “It’s sealed in the walls and paneling, so it’s not a health hazard for the building’s occupants, but it makes simple remodeling nearly impossible.”
Guy Esser, project architect of the Education Building, said despite the asbestos, construction for the facility is progressing on schedule.
“The Education Building’s construction follows the academic calendar,” Esser said. “We are projected to start moving people into the building in June of 2016.”
Unlike the IRIC, Esser said the construction of the Education Building was broken up into two phases.
“The first phase of building is demolition and the abatement of asbestos … That step will be finished by the end of this month,” Esser said. “The second phase is renovating and rebuilding the facility.”
Pankopf said the reconstruction of the Education Building was partially prompted by the integration of technology and teaching methods available to modern facilities.
“The reconstruction will end in a building that accommodates technology,” Pankopf said. “It will also be a building that is more flexible for future remodel.”
Esser said construction crews are fortunate neither project has faced many difficulties.
“The Education Building threw us a curve ball and the contractor had to find the best way to remove all of the asbestos,” Esser said. “That’s been the only rough patch so far though.”
Unlike the Education Building, Pankopf said the idea for the IRIC has been a desire of the university for almost 15 years, and funding for the project has been included in the annual appropriations request for the last several years.
“We developed a funding strategy and were given the green light to begin the project planning two or three years ago,” he said. “The actual construction of the building began in the fall of 2014.”
Pankopf said beginning any construction project takes a lot of planning, and builders must follow an extensive process.
“Once it is understood that there is a need to be satisfied by a capital project, a building team launches into the pre-planning and pre-design phases,” he said. “This includes developing a capital strategy, or figuring out how to fund the project.”
Pankopf said he is hopeful about the completion of both projects due to the solid funding strategy and quality construction teams for both buildings.
“The Education Building will be finished and ready to be occupied in the summer of 2016,” he said. “The IRIC will follow soon after and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of the same year.”
Corrin Bond can be reached at email@example.com