Well, it’s been a busy summer around campus with several new construction projects and other renovations to existing spaces under way or recently completed. We sat down with Jim Wolfe, director of Facility Operations and Planning, to get a rundown of some of these projects. Here are some updates on what you may see now, or when you return/arrive to campus for the fall semester:
Welcome Center Groundbreaking and Construction
An official ground breaking for the new Fuquay Welcome Center, to be located adjacent to the Orr Center, is planned for September 1. More details about the project will be released at that time. However, in the meantime, a construction fence has already gone up and some preliminary tree removal has taken place in the lawn between the Orr Center and the Performance Center. You'll notice that the sidewalk between the Performance Center and the University Center (UC) is temporarily closed during construction. Soon, a decorative fence wrap will go up around the construction site and remain in place until the project is complete. Wolfe says trees will be planted around campus to replace those being removed for the project.
The 6,000-square-foot facility will serve as the central point for convening all campus tours, as well as accommodating the more than 200,000 people who annually use the USI campus for activities other than academic classes. The building also will feature an accessible green roof that will include walkways, patios and seating areas. The project is expected to take 9 months to a year to complete. We’ll keep you updated as more details about the project are finalized.
The renovation and expansion of the Physical Activities Center (PAC) will be the first since the building opened its doors in 1980. The PAC is the home court of USI’s Screaming Eagles athletics programs and the site of fall and spring commencement exercises at USI. It’s also home to Athletics offices and a number of academic classrooms. Wolfe says the project, which will include renovation of existing space as well as some new construction, is currently in the final design phase, including details like technology infrastructure, signage, colors and graphics. He said the hope is to start construction/renovation in spring 2017. We’ll have more details as that project gets under way.
University Center West Food Court
The heavily anticipated updates to the food court in UC West are wrapping up, with the new Chick-fil-A and Steak ’n Shake restaurants set to open for the start of the fall semester. The restaurants replace Burger King and Archie’s Pizzeria. Updates to the food court area range from new flooring, ceilings and lighting, to updated bulletin board/display space, new booth seating and more. Be prepared for long lines in the early weeks, as the new dining options have been quite the buzz over the summer months.
Traditions Lounge received a facelift over the summer, the most notable change being the new blue color replacing the former yellow. The new color helps bring out the natural hues in the stone and wood. Other updates to the lounge include repairs to leaks, window cleaning, updated lighting, and resurfaced floors. As you can imagine, reaching the interior windows and ceiling was no easy task. Workers constructed scaffolding into the rafters to complete the repairs and updates.
University Center West/University Suite
Two additional projects are under way in UC West. The former University Suite adjacent to Carter Hall was gutted and will now become a modern meeting space. This space will replace the former meeting rooms UC 205 and 206. The new room will feature a moveable wall, allowing it to be divided into two rooms or used as a whole. Moveable chairs and tables will also allow the room to be set up in a variety of ways to accommodate the needs of the user and promote collaboration. Other features include a storage room, white board walls and digital projectors. This project is nearing completion.
As the new meeting space project comes to completion, meeting rooms UC 205 and 206 will be renovated and will become the new University Suite. The two rooms will become one room with an open floor plan. Included in the University Suite will be a dining area near the large windows for up to 20 people, a lounge area and a small serving kitchen. This project is expected to be completed around the end of the fall semester.
In an effort to increase safety for pedestrians, two new speed bumps were added on campus over the summer. The new speed bumps and raised pedestrian walkways are located in front of the Children’s Center on the west side of campus and in front of the Library and Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center on the east side of campus for traffic traveling in both directions. Wolfe says both speed bumps are safe for travel at 15 mph, which is the speed limit across campus. This project has been completed.
Updated Parking Lot Landscaping
Parking Lots A and B on the east side of campus saw new landscaping and irrigation installed over the summer. The renovations match those completed on Lot C earlier this year. In addition to the new shrubs, trees, and rock, railings were added along stairs and walkways. This project has been completed.
Renovations to three campus apartment buildings was completed over the summer including, Marshall, Saletta and Welsh. The renovations included, new carpet, appliances, paints, cabinets and furniture. Also added to the three apartments was a new SimplexGrinnell fire detection system. Wolfe said plans are to expand that system into other buildings starting next summer with a goal of having all apartment buildings outfitted in the coming years.
Other projects completed, or in the process of completion include:
New Conference Space in the Arts Center. A space formerly used as a computer lab is being renovated into a new conference/meeting space. In the Art Center two large computer labs/classrooms were added in the lower level after the Engineering Department moved into the Business and Engineering Center and the Applied Engineering Center in 2014. This project is currently under way.
Photo Credit: Almira Havic
A new color for Traditions Lounge