New engineering complex leads campus renovations

New engineering complex leads campus renovations

Ashanka Kumari

A new science and engineering building was completed and ready for engineering students when they returned to campus after winter break, Assistant Vice President for Construction Tim Leopard said.

“The new building is an approximately 200,000 square foot science and engineering research center,” Leopard said. “It contains two large lecture demonstration halls, several classrooms and a lot of lab space for engineers. One of the primary elements is a large combustion lab.”

The Engineering Research Center was a $70 million investment for the University but was partially paid for by grants, Leopard said.

Chris Courtney, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said that completion of the new building has made getting to class easier.

“As a commuter student, it was inconvenient having to walk around the construction for the most recently completed building on the way to class each day,” Courtney said. “But since that building was opened at the start of this semester, the construction going on now doesn’t really affect me on a day-to-day basis.”

Another facility recently opened is the indoor tennis stadium located by the softball field and Capstone Village, Leopard said.

“[The indoor tennis stadium] was in construction for a little under a year, we started last spring,” Leopard said. “[Jan. 20] was the first match in the facility.”

Next for the campus is the completion of the East Quad energy plant, Leopard said.

“The East Quad energy plant is important because it provides heating and cooling to that side of campus,” Leopard said. “It works in conjunction with the Shelby Plant. A lot of different buildings, including Shelby Hall, the science and engineering buildings, Russell Hall, Moore Hall, the President’s Mansion and Gordon Palmer, are tied in this but it all works together.”

The East Quad energy plant will allow the University to create heated and chilled water more economically than the previous system, Leopard said.

“It’s water-cooled water versus air-cooled water,” Leopard said. “The air-cooled is much less efficient than the water-cooled. Most of the air-cooled systems have been disconnected, but we still have some more that haven’t been extended, which will be done over the next summer.”

Moreover, two renovation projects are currently under construction and will be completed in August, Leopard said.

“Russell Hall is currently under an exterior renovation to the side of the existing building and will receive an addition on the back that will feature a new 400-seat classroom and four 75-seat classrooms,” Leopard said. “[The] Moore Hall renovation that will be going on and ready in August will feature an elevator shaft to provide accessibility to all four floors of the building, which we didn’t have previously.”

To cap off the campus renovations, when students return in August 2012, Rose Towers dorms will be torn down, and a replacement facility will be ready.

“The North Bluff Residential community is currently being built and will open in August 2012,” Leopard said. “The new community will accommodate an equal amount of people as Rose Towers.”

Jennifer Alexander, a senior majoring in management and former three-year resident of Rose Towers, said she understands why Rose Towers is being torn down.

“They need to tear it down because it is old, but I think that they should have kept the name for the new building they are putting up,” Alexander said.