Despite delays, summer construction projects coming to successful close

William Schertz

Work is coming to a close behind the Student Center as Chris Mercurio seals a wall which will contain part of the docks for shipping and receiving.

Credit: Jason Hall

As summer recess comes to a close, the familiar sound of bulldozers, cranes and other construction equipment is still heard across campus.

The university underwent several construction projects during the summer, most of which were completed, but a few of which experienced some delays.

Tom Euclide, director of architecture and engineering, attributed a two-week-long construction worker strike that occurred this summer as a major setback to the projects.

“We were troubled by a plumber strike, but we were able to come back from it,” Euclide said. “We were able to keep moving forward.”

Euclide said the plumbers strike and subsequent pipe fitters strike created extra work for his department during the summer.

“We had to make extra plans to figure out how to get the contractors back on schedule,” he said.

The university also ran into problems with the Bowman Hall stairway and plaza and the new north entrance to the Student Center.

“That project was far more complicated than anticipated,” Euclide said.

Workers constructed a tubing system inside the concrete steps that will allow a 150-degree liquid to flow through them to help warm the steps in the winter to melt snow and ice on them.

Euclide said the problem with the project is that it required high accuracy and extensive safety testing.

“When you’re heating concrete like that, you can’t make a mistake,” he said.

Jackie Parsons, executive director of Kent Student Center and Dining Services, said the delay of the north entrance has not been a big issue.

“The receiving portion of the loading dock is functional now, so it’s not causing any problems with deliveries,” she said.

Euclide said both the Bowman Hall and Student Center projects took place in areas where they were able to easily detour traffic, so neither will prevent students from getting around campus.

Parsons noted that since there was no Student Center north entry to begin with, there was “never any expectation” from students for it to be done on time. The entrance is now scheduled to be complete within the next two weeks, weather pending.

Euclide said the “sheer volume of work” also made it harder to finish everything on time, but he expects they will be finished this fall.

Even with the series of setbacks, construction workers were able to finish most of the projects scheduled for summer.

The university finished the second phase of the university esplanade, stretching it from what used to be Janik Drive to the north side of the Student Center.

“There’s some great pedestrian ways on campus now,” Euclide said. “There’s no competing between cars and students near Bowman.”

University workers also spent time fixing potholes, paving sidewalks, making electrical upgrades, installing wireless connections and building new bathrooms inside Koonce Hall.

“The hardest project we had was also the easiest,” Euclide said. “Renovating 10 floors of bathrooms is a difficult job, but the construction team worked really well together.”

Kim Ferguson, Tri-Towers area coordinator, said the new bathrooms have received a lot of positive feedback from students.

“They like how they look, and they like the individual showers,” she said. “Returning students particularly like the new bathrooms because they know what they were like before.”

Euclide said delays aside, he considers the summer construction plans to be a success.

“I think (Kent State) is going to continue to improve the quality of life for students, faculty and staff,” he said. “It took a little bit of extra effort with some projects, but we got them completed.”

Contact technology reporter William Schertz at [email protected].