Academic West moving forward

By Sara Matthews

Contributing Writer

Construction on the Academic West quad is set to begin in late March or early April of 2012, assuming the trustees and senior administration give the go-ahead.

According to Project Manager Angelo Vieceli, the University looked long and hard at how best to use the 50 acres on site. The Academic West structure will be the first building constructed in the new quad and the first housing step taken on the farm property as it will double as a learning and a living environment.

Master planning for construction began in 2006, and specific plans for Academic West started in 2009. 

“We call the construction of Academic West an enabling process,” said Dennis Hawley, Associate Vice President for Facilities.

Some faculty members are currently isolated from their departments, and the administration hopes the new construction will bring entire departments under the same roof.

The site will also feature apartment-style living halls. The current design for the new housing involves four four-story apartment-style buildings that will house 89 students each. This housing is mainly targeted toward upperclassmen.

“The goal of this project is to make everyone happy. We want to satisfy the needs of the University, and at the same time we want these buildings to be inviting and timeless,” said Jim Hostetler, Director of Construction and Design. Hostetler also wants the project to finish on time and under budget.

“[Academic West] is the first building for the new quad, and it will set the stage for future architecture and the growth of the University,” Hawley said.

The construction is set to be a 15-month project. Workers will work from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the week and will only add extra hours if they are behind schedule. Hostetler believes that around 100 workers will be working every day. He thinks they will cycle through a few hundred workers over the course of the construction process.

Hostetler said that there were some setbacks because of the recent flooding in the area. Because the ground was wet, they were unable to move the soil to shape the ground for construction. They were also unable to get materials onto campus during the flood.

Project coordinators have planned in advance for seasonal weather disruptions such as snow, sleet and hurricanes.

This construction is deemed a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project. This is an internationally-recognized green building certification system, and it is the first project for the campus that conforms to LEED orders.

According to its website, “LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.”

During the construction decision-making process, the final decision was made with the environment in mind. Natural plants will also be implemented to help clean runoff rainwater.

“The University wants to make sure it is spending money wisely and meeting academic needs,” Hawley said.

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