By the time Winter Semester begins, the renovations on the East and West Tech Buildings will have begun.
Director of Campus Planning and Facilities Jack Burns explains that construction should begin late this year.
“We’re going through the state approval process because it’s a partially-funded state project,” Burns says. “So we have to go through their approval process. It’s very lengthy. Got to make sure you cross your Ts and dot your Is.”
The process has taken slightly longer than normal, Burns notes, because – much like everyone else – the state is short-staffed.
“That’s neither here nor there for me, but that’s where we are with everything,” he says with a good-humored chuckle. “However, our representative has been very good at making sure we have everything, so I don’t want to sound like I was discrediting him in any way.”
The process has different levels, ranging from 100 to 500, and according to Burns the college has recently received the 400-level review for the project.
“That’s approval; that’s good!” he says.
The college also has submitted a proposal to the Joint Capital Outlay Subcommittee (JCOS) asking for $3.6 million to renovate the H-Building. The project would, in total, cost $7.2 million.
“We haven’t even been asked by the JCOS to come and present to them yet,” Burns says. “So we’re still anxiously waiting to see if they think our argument is compelling enough to grant us the money.
“I think everyone would know if we get the money because they’ll hear the giant ‘yahoo’ from my office across campus!”
The JCOS money would allow the college to stretch the 2016 millage funds further. Of course, renovations would still need to go through the approval process.
With the approval process at the 500-level, Burns explains it means that the architect will submit construction documents (the drawings that show how the building is to be constructed) to the state. The construction manager will then provide a detailed estimate for cost to the state as well. Certain other documents will factor into this, too.
Once approval has come down from the top, the college will send the project out to the construction manager – the Barton Malow Co. The company then sends the drawings to the various trades, which will then make bids on the project. Once all those have been accepted, they’re submitted to the state for approval and to ensure it all comes in on-budget as projected.
“We had hoped to start earlier,” Burns says, “so there’s some changes to the construction schedule. We may not be able to construct the infill now; we may have to wait until spring unless we have a warm December.”
Thankfully, Burns notes, there’s enough to do otherwise that the project’s focus can be moved without compromising the timeline for the construction. It’s simply a rearrangement in the schedule.
It’s hoped the project will be completed by fall of 2019. As it will take some time to move everyone in and get labs and other rooms set up, Burns says the college hopes to have everything ready to go by winter of 2020.
“That’s our target date,” he says. “This building – whatever its title may be – will be open on Day One of Winter Semester 2020.”
Burns and Brian Lay, the college’s Director of Information
Systems, have planned presentations on all millage projects to be made to the support staff, administrative, and faculty councils.
Other projects include updating the campus’s phone and camera systems, installing cell phone repeaters, and putting in emergency natural gas generators for the IT rooms to ensure the safety of the servers in case of a major, extended blackout.
“This is all building safety stuff,” Burns says. “It’s all necessary things – not as glamorous as East and West Tech, but all still very necessary to keep the campus moving.
“Our society is more technology-driven; our buildings have to catch up with that.”
In terms of the name, there has been some discussion on that front, but nothing major, according to Vice President of Administration Sue Wetzel.
“It’s being discussed in cabinet,” she says. “Then it’s going to the vice presidents to give to their direct reports.”
Wetzel also explains that the Board of Trustees has the final say on all building names on-campus.
The question is whether or not the naming scheme for some of the other buildings around campus will continue.
The C-Building, the A-Building, and the H-Building are all named for previous presidents of the college: Ron Campbell, Audrey Warrick, and Gerald Welch.
The next in line is David Nixon, who was president from 2003–2013, but there seems to be little support for naming a building after him.
The Agora plans a contest through the end of the year to allow students, staff, and faculty to throw their own submissions into the fold.