Construction here, there and everywhere
THE CAMPUS, AND THE CITY ITSELF, LOST A BELOVED icon during a fire last fall. The rebuilding of Old Capitol's dome has grabbed headlines in the press.
But it's the new construction and reconstruction elsewhere on campus that may be the bigger story.
There are at least 25 major construction projects-those that cost $250,000 or more eachin various stages of development right now.
"And that's only a portion of the projects in progress," according to campus planner Larry Wilson.
He estimates that there are more than 400 projects in the works overall, from new classroom construction to parking-space additions to minor infrastructure updates.
A large number of these projects already were under way before the past year's budget woes began. Alsoalthough there were budget cuts in operations fundingmoney for capital projects is still available, as capital funds cannot be used for operations or salaries.
Whether big or small, all these projects are important, Wilson says, and they all combine to make this year the busiest ever for construction at Iowa.
"There's so much going on right now. A lot of it is visible work that people see when they walk across campus," he says. "But there's also a lot that goes on behind the scenes, in the planning stages, in design. Iowa's a busy place."
Among those 25 major projects are several that promise great benefits for thousands of students and an array of academic departments in the next few years.
Even though the state's recent budget woes prompted fiscal belt-tightening at the University, most of the planned construction projects will continue on schedule, notes Andrew Ives, interim director of Facilities Services Group (FSG).
Generally, the state cuts the University's operations budget, not its capital commitments which are used only for construction, Ives explains. The Legislature dedicates funds to construction projects to ensure that the University can meet its long-term educational and research needs. Tuition dollars do not pay for buildings.
Also, many of the projects are funded, in part, by private donations, Ives says.
"Usually these gifts are tied to a reasonable timetable. Donors expect that projects will proceed in a timely manner," Ives says. "We can't sit on the funds forever, waiting for the economy to get better, or we could lose them forever."
For Hawkeye sports fans and recreation seekers, the Roy G. Karro Athletic Hall of Fame and Visitors Center on Mormon Trek Boulevard was dedicated in September. Also near the site is a new soccer field. In the next few years, tentative plans currently call for a new indoor aquatic center with indoor and outdoor tennis courts and a wealth of exercise equipment for use by students, faculty, and staff.
Intercollegiate athletics programs recently celebrated a ground-breaking for the Russell and Ann Gerdin Athletic Learning Center, planned just north of Melrose Avenue and south of Slater Residence Hall. Funded entirely with private donations, it would provide academic facilities for UI student-athletes, including study rooms, tutorial spaces, and a computer lab.
A new 500-bed residence hall may pop up in preliminary design plans later this fall, featuring suite-style clusters of rooms around kitchens.
No discussion of campus construction and planning would be complete without mentioning the "p" wordparking.
Parking lot 43 is slated for expansion, which would add spaces for the hospital and sporting events. Planners also are looking to increase the size of Hospital Ramp 3 and reorganize Kinnick Stadium parking.
Then there's the centerpiece of campus, Old Cap's dome, which should be back in its revered spot on the Pentacrest by February. A new roof for the building is expected to follow in early spring.
Interior renovations-some fire-related, some not-will begin in March and continue through at least December 2003. Nonfire-related upgrades, exterior structural upgrades, and landscaping are expected to follow the other work if funding is available.
Gary Nagle, an architect and project manager for the dome restoration for FSG's design and construction services, expects the dome's return to have a "calming effect" on campus.
"It's a strong symbol for a lot of people on this campus and for
Iowans around the country," Nagle says. "We'll all be breathing
a big sigh of relief when it's back up there and the bell's ringing again."