Since October, construction machinery and materials have filled the space in front of the Elliott Student Union, while areas inside the Union have been blocked off due to construction.
The $7 million project, which involves revamping the south entrance to the Union and adding an auditorium, has been moving forward despite problems along the way.
Kim Nicas, director of the Union, said issues caused the project to be slightly delayed and slightly increase in cost.
Nicas said one problem has been caused by unforeseen issues, such as routing the hydronic piping for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
“We’ve had a few change orders due to the fact that this building has been renovated many times over the years,” Nicas said in an email. “ I believe they have now worked through most of the complexities and unknowns of the Steak ‘n Shake area and the roof-top mechanical system routing.”
Steve Sloan, superintendent for Westport Construction, project general contractor, said unforeseen changes and issues occur often in remodel projects.
“That’s typical on remodel stuff,” Sloan said. “Unforeseen stuff when you start getting into the project.”
Nicas said most progress has been inside, such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical.
“Progress has mainly been behind the scenes with HVAC, plumbing and electrical system,” Nicas said in an email. “Progress that cannot been seen by our visitors but they have indeed made progress!”
Although the building has offered problems, Mother Nature also played a role in delays. Nicas said around 20 days were lost due to inclement weather.
“Now that winter’s done, we’re starting to move along again,” Sloan said. “It was a pretty bad winter and slowed things down, as far as outside work.”
Despite the issues, Nicas said the project is still under the $7 million budget. She said the project is paid for using student union fees and the issuance of bonds.
Nicas said the construction crews are about to begin pouring the concrete footings for the auditorium.
Nicas said the bowling center and south hallway near U.S. Bank will be closed over the summer, starting May 13. She said U.S. Bank and the card center will still be accessible through a temporary hallway. The hallway and south entrance are currently planned to reopen by the start of the fall semester. Nicas said they are unsure of a completion date for the project, but is anticipating on completing it between November and January.
Nicas said the new auditorium will have almost 300 retractable seats, allowing it to be used for presentations, lectures or dinners and other events. She also said the south entrance will be revamped, with the bowling center separated by a glass wall from the walkway and the wheelchair ramp being made more accessible. Nicas said an interactive information center for the south entrance is in the planning stages.
Nicas said visitors walked through the south entrance almost 300,000 times between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018. She said the project will provide visitors with a better first impression of UCM, since the Union is the starting point for most visitors and prospective students. Nicas said one of the plans is to replace the carpet in the entrance with carpet that matches UCM colors.
“It’s going to be UCM,” Nicas said. “You’re going to know you’re walking into a UCM building.”
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