Academic West construction picks up pace

By Jason Pepe

Contributing Writer

The ongoing construction around campus is poised to take a significant step within the coming weeks. Construction of Academic West, a new academic building behind the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library, is set to begin around the end of March. For the initial phases of the construction, Fraternity Road will be blocked off at Coleman Drive. Academic West is planned to be ready for the start of classes in August 2013.

The three-story, 70,000 square foot building will help to reinvigorate the University’s academic approach. Academic West will include large and medium-sized classrooms, laboratories and 59 faculty offices to be used mainly by the social sciences. Hearth spaces will be a focal point of the building, providing students and faculty with extra space to interact and work together.

“Academic West will have a number of attractive spaces where people will be able to put their heads together on group projects, plug in their laptops to a flat-screen TV to work on presentations, and study between classes,” associate vice president for facilities Dennis Hawley said.

The new building will be constructed with environmental sustainability in mind, as it will be built according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification standards. LEED is a rating system for green buildings that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000. Academic West’s silver certification means that the building will earn between 50-59 points on a 100 point scale. The most notable green feature of Academic West will be a vegetated, green roof.

Academic West will also open up space elsewhere on campus and allow for greater cohesion among various academic departments. To make space for the construction, the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity house will have to be demolished. Students living in the current Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity house will move into the new housing built by the corn fields after spring break. The Kappa Delta Rho Fraternity house, which had been uninhabited for several years, was also demolished last fall.

“Honestly, it was so much nicer than I expected. You can tell the school put a lot of effort into the house, and we’re extremely appreciative,” Eddie Guers ’13, president of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, said.

Guers noted there were some downsides to the mid-semester move. He said that it was difficult to leave a house with so many memories in it and the chapter was moving to a much less convenient location. Additionally, the fraternity’s new house only has singles, so it will be smaller than the  existing one. A few students are going to have to find a new place to live in the middle of the semester.

Beyond Academic West, more plans are in place to expand academic space and student housing on campus. Another building, dubbed Academic East, will be raised across from Academic West to form a new academic quad. A new art building is also in the early planning stage, and additional student housing is tentatively set to open by Aug. 2015. Parking lots are also in development.

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