At a school where the cutting edge and the up-to-date are areas of pride, the campus of The University of Alabama is a consistent construction zone with new projects always on the horizon.
And while there are many sides to the debate of the benefits of expansion and renovation, there is no denying that change is happening all over campus, and it’s happening constantly.
Tim Leopard, assistant vice president of construction administration at the University, said there are anywhere from 12 to 15 major construction projects currently taking place on campus. The most notable include the continued construction of the second Presidential Village housing community, the renovation and repurposing of the Bryce compound, and the expansion of the Ferguson Center.
The second installment of Presidential Village, and its accompanying student recreation center, is the biggest single project at the moment.
The reason for beginning the second of the twin housing facilities so much later than the first was the need for rooms in lieu of Rose Towers, which was torn down in order to make room for the Presidential Village project.
“There was always a plan for both buildings, but we had to have replacement beds ready before we could tear down Rose, otherwise we would have been in the negative for beds,” Leopard said. “Presidential Village one was done, or basically done, by the time we started deconstruction on Rose Towers.”
Dorms are not the only buildings that have been constructed and renovated over the past few years. The Ferguson Center, originally built in 1973, is undergoing a large expansion, and the University is also working to renovate the Bryce Hospital in order to take over use of the compounds in years to come.
Leopard said there are still patients being treated in some buildings on the property, so until those patients are moved to another location, there are limits to what the University can do to repurpose all of the areas and buildings of the compound.
“It will take several years to fully transition that campus over to UA, but we have already renovated and moved into many of the buildings there,” Leopard said.
For the various and simultaneous projects occurring on campus, the University uses several different companies and allows contractors to make bids on different projects, which are awarded through a selection process.
Leopard said it is important that the University keeps preserving the integrity and history of the campus while maintaining a level of quality and functionality to keep the campus up-to-date.
“The University takes an incredible effort to save our significant, historic buildings,” Leopard said. “We work to maintain the outside façades even while we have worked extensively to renovate the inside. We realize that many of these buildings have a lot of value.”