Renovations end as other construction begins


Tri-Tower renovations are set to be completed for the end of September.

Carolyn Pippin

Renovations to Tri-Towers are coming to a close, with a completion date set for the end of September, while renovations to the Center for Undergraduate Excellence have just begun.

“We worked in the rotunda and did a lot of infrastructure (when Tri-Tower construction began in 2012), and then in 2013, we did Wright Hall,” said John White, the associate director of residential facilities.

Currently, the exteriors of Koonce and Leebrick halls are being renovated.

“We have upgraded all of the heating and cooling systems,” White said. “We’ve updated (the halls), and it doesn’t look like a 50-year-old building anymore. To appreciate what it is now is to look at what it was.”

The rooms, hallways and lounges all have new finishes including new carpet, paint and moveable furniture pieces.

While most of the work was completed during the summer when students were gone, the construction teams had regulations for their work times during the school year in order to not inconvenience students even though the renovations were still an adjustment for them.

“(The workers) could start at 7 a.m. but not do anything noisy until after 10 a.m. and they had to finish at 6 or 7 o’clock at night,” White said. “It was difficult, but students hung in with us; they were awesome.”

In the last five years, the university has spent around $30 million to $40 million for renovations, said Michael Bruder, executive director of facilities planning and design.

The Center for Undergraduate Excellence renovation alone has a budget set for $5.8 million.

The area, originally built as a cafeteria and dining hall for Lake and Olson Halls in the 1960s and more recently housed the Department of Undergraduate Studies, is undergoing the renovations to house the new center, one of the foundations for excellence programs, Bruder said.

Undergraduate Studies is temporarily relocated to the fifth floor of the Library. Some of the operations are located in the Michael Schwartz Center, such as its student tutoring functions.

“One of the goals of the project is to bring their operations together and make that student success component more available for students,” Bruder said.

“Students are first and student success is what is most important to us,” said Eboni Pringle, interim dean of undergraduate studies. “We want you to come and enjoy your experience and grow from your experience and prepare for your future.”

As an important component to student success, that section of the building had to undergo renovations and receive updates, Bruder said.

Renovations include a large glassy atrium addition being added to the building ton the Esplanade.

“It will be like a student lounge and Wi-Fi bar area,” Bruder said. “So you can study in-between classes, hang out, wait there for your advising appointments or before tutoring sessions.”

A coffee kiosk, as well as a walk up window, will be added so students can get a cup of coffee while walking on the Esplanade. The completed renovations will span more than 32,000 square feet, Bruder said.

“We want (students) to feel like in their daily life academic support is easy for them to get to,” Pringle said. “Our building will offer that easy access and be conducive to learning. It will be a place that students will want to be and want to come to often.”

The projected end date is in January 2015, and it will open for students over February and March.

Contact Carolyn Pippin at [email protected].