Campus construction continues as buildings meet schedule and walkway falls behind

Construction of two new residence halls continues during September. One hall is expected to open August 2015, followed by the second in January 2016. Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields said if the openings are delayed, students will be housed in Rice Hall, Rivers Hall and LaGrange Hall.

Construction of a new science building and two new residence halls is expected to finish on schedule, officials said.

The science building construction contract runs through mid-February, and interior work is underway, said project manager Jim McGee.

“The ground floor of the building is pretty well ready,” McGee said. “We’re starting to put in lab equipment and doing cabinet work, and we are preparing very soon to install classroom equipment — like desks and things.”

He said before any people move into the building, the goal is to have the project completed, as construction could create problems for the people working there.

Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields said the residence hall construction, which will create housing for about 760 people, remains on track to open one building August 2015.

The opening correlates with the implementation of a freshman live-on mandate, which requires all incoming freshmen live on campus for one year.

Students who are married, have children or choose to live with their parents do not have to live on campus, Shields said.

“Students are applying on a first-come, first-served basis,” he said. “The first 340 beds will be in the new hall. Anybody after that will spend first semester probably in Rivers Hall, then spend the next semester in a new hall.”

Because the new buildings will replace Rice and Rivers Halls, rather than creating more housing, the old hall will still be available, he said.

The second building is expected to open January 2015.

McGee said although cold weather can affect construction projects, he does not think it is a concern for the science building or residence halls.

“It’s always a possibility, but BL Harbert has proven themselves very aggressive with cold weather issues on the science building,” he said. “So we’re doing good having them.”

Shields said the residence halls project has been slowed due to rainy weather issues, but “no major issues have been raised.”

“The critical point will come in the spring — around March or April,” he said. “At that point, we’ll know for sure if we can open building one in August 2015 and the second no later than January 2016.”

He said if the second building opens ahead of schedule, students will likely have the choice to make a midsemester move.

“If the buildings for some reason do not open on time, one of the things we have going for us is we have residence halls that are empty. We still have Rice Hall, Rivers Hall and LaGrange Hall,” he said. “But, we really don’t expect that will be an issue.

“The place where most projects go off track is the first few phases, and we’ve now passed those phases.”

He said extra days are included in the construction schedule for any delays that might occur.

“I feel very confident about where we are in the schedule everything will be open,” McGee said. “The building has great consultants, architects and engineers. You always have issues come up, but they’ve done a great job to keep us on track.”

Construction of a walkway from Floyd Hall to the new science building fell behind when changes to the concrete being used were began, said Assistant Vice President for Facilities Administration and Planning Michael Gautney.

“We requested they change it to a kind that will match what’s on the pedestrian sidewalk,” Gautney said.

The construction, which was originally expected to be completed by the end of October, temporarily blocks use of the walking bridge that leads to LaGrange Hall.

“I’m anticipating within the next month the bridge will be open,” Gautney said.

He said the walkway should be finished in January.