Construction projects lag behind schedule
The 2012 spring semester is slated to usher in the completion of construction projects included in the 2005 Campus Master Plan, an ongoing vision of aesthetic and academic improvement for UALR.
While construction and renovation projects such as the Engineering and Information Technology Building, Fribourgh Hall, West Hall and Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall have been completed as part of the master plan, there are plenty that have yet to be finished. Ongoing projects include the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences, Student Services One-Stop Center, Recreation and Sports Complex and Trojan Grill, most of which are scheduled for completion within months, according to David Millay, assistant vice chancellor of facilities management.
Student One-Stop Center
After almost a year of construction, UALR’s new Student One-Stop Center is nearing completion. Although the 46,000 square-foot building is now a few months behind schedule — looking at a March opening — the center is still on its $13 million budget, according to Millay.
The SOSC will be the new home for student services such as Admissions, Records and Registration and Counseling and Career Planning, and is a way to consolidate these services in one easily accessible location. The four-story modern structure will also include the chancellor’s office suite, the provost’s offices and a 205-seat auditorium.
“The intended purpose is to house all of the various things that students have to accomplish,” Millay said. “Everything in one building.”
Millay said that the building, although aesthetically pleasing, is not so much fancy as it is functional. It’s neutral tones, dark woodgrains, and large, open atrium create both an attractive and professional environment.
The south side of the structure is adjoined to the Donaghey Student Center by a glass skybridge, which is located just across from the Campus Life offices. In the SOSC, this crossing opens onto the second floor of the atrium, where Admissions and Financial Aid and Records and Registration will soon be located. The student services to be housed in the SOSC will move into the building in early March, Millay said.
Former Administration Buildings
After university administration offices relocate to the SOSC in March, renovation of the Administration South building will begin, Millay said. The 34,000 square-foot building will be completely renovated, both cosmetically and structurally, in preparation for its new tenant, the department of nursing.
“It’s a pretty extensive project,” Millay said. “They will have all of their simulation labs on the first floor and it will involve a lot of AV [audio visual] and IT [information technology].”
The university is now attempting to designate a general contractor for the job and is considering bid responses for Administration South. The deadline was Jan. 26.
There are currently no plans for usage of the current Administration North building, Millay said.
Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences
On the west side of campus, there is another construction project behind deadline — the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences. The five-story building is located directly north of Dickinson Hall and borders South University Avenue near the intersection of 32nd Street. Construction on the state-of-the-art building began in August 2010 and was scheduled for completion last November, but has since been moved back to mid-April of this year due to funding-related delays, Millay said.
In 2009, $12 million was allocated for the CINS building project from a $32 million bond issue, which only paid for the first two floors. The remaining funding has since been allocated and crews are working on completing the remaining three and installing a greenhouse on the roof, Millay said.
The construction area from 32nd Street to the south end of Ross Hall, which was fenced off since Nov. 29, 2010, has recently been reopened due to the finalization of exterior construction. The walkways, which were barricaded for over a year, included “a portion of the Trojan Trail walkway that runs inside the UALR fence parallel to University Avenue,” according to the UALR website.
Recreation and Sports Complex
Construction of the Trojans’ newest athletic facility, which will feature a track and field for such sports as soccer, “is at a standstill,” Millay said. There is currently no completion date for the sports complex that began construction last January, although the initial completion date was for October 2011. According to Millay, the delay is due to “problems with the general contractor.”
“We’re trying to come to some agreement on some repairs that need to be done on some work they did that was unsatisfactory,” Millay said.
Millay said the biggest aspect of the construction is the completion of the NCAA certified track, which has to meet certain specifications, but has been delayed due to construction error. While crews wait for a resolution between the university and general contractor, they are laying turf, completing the intramural fields, doing some landscaping and other miscellaneous projects.
“We have some great consultants that specialize in sports complexes,” Millay said.
Aside from the major, multimillion-dollar construction and renovation projects on campus, there are also a few minor developments and cosmetic improvements planned for the near future.
Construction of the future Trojan Grill is scheduled for an April completion, which is a month later than originally planned. The grill is designed to ease the traffic in the Donaghey Student Center and offer university residents a more convenient culinary option. Despite rumors of a parking lot surrounding the new grill, Millay reaffirms that the land is designated as green space.
There are plans for miscellaneous landscaping to be done at the west entrances off of South University Avenue. This “sprucing up” will cost roughly $25,000, Millay said.
On a more tentative note, the 2005 Campus Master Plan called for the demolition of the shopping plaza on the corner of Asher and South University Avenues within five to eight years. As the seventh year is now approaching, Millay seems skeptical about the possibility of this endeavor due to the lengthy leases of such businesses as Big Lots, RadioShack and Harbor Freight. “It’s not likely, but if someone came in with $60 million tomorrow,” he said, “I think that would be one of the spots we look at to do demolition.”