Campus construction projects ongoing, many more in planning stages

06/04/12 mcw

HAYS, Kan. -- Wiest Hall's annex will start to crumble later this month as part of a series of construction and renovation projects around Fort Hays State University's campus.

The demolition, which is under contract and set to begin next week, was scheduled to begin last week, said Dana Cunningham, director of facilities planning, but last minute inspections resulted in the discovery of additional asbestos. The annex has been unoccupied for many years and is not in good condition. The roof leaks and the heating and air conditioning systems are substandard. The longer-term look at the site showed that the annex wasn't worth saving.

"To remodel it, we'd probably lose 70 percent of it anyway to cost, so it wasn't worthwhile to keep it," said Cunningham.

The annex will be completely gone by the end of the summer. A conceptual master plan demonstrated how new construction could be completed while maintaining the residential tower's occupant and parking capabilities for the time being. However, that will eventually come down as well.

"The best scenario for that is probably to remove it and rebuild a new concept of housing that people really want to live in," said Cunningham.

FHSU's Quad is also under construction. A service tunnel lid replacement has left the sidewalk between Picken Hall and Sheridan Hall unusable for the summer.

"In that area, the sidewalk and tunnel were two different elements," said Cunningham.

The old lid will be removed and the walls of the tunnel raised about a foot. The new lid will become part of the sidewalk, which will be realigned to accommodate the changes.

Other residential buildings are being renovated and the former Agnew site will present a brand new housing option for students. Building one of Tiger Place Apartments will be complete and ready for occupants by Aug. 1. The furnished, suite-style apartments will consist of four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a commons space with room for a kitchenette. Plans for building two are in the design phase, and construction is slated to begin this summer. The building will sit on the southeast corner of the Agnew lot, and should be ready for students in Aug. 2013.

McMindes Hall will also get a facelift this summer. The windows of the east wing will be replaced, including all residential rooms, central lounges, first floor lounges and office spaces.

"This fall we'll bid the west wing, and hopefully we'll be doing that next summer and finish the building next summer," said Cunningham.

Slight remodeling is ongoing within McMindes as well. The physical plant crew is working on remodeling the small lounge spaces in the student room areas. These rooms, known as "ironing rooms" when the building first opened, are no longer used for such purposes, so the walls will be realigned with the hallways and will be converted to resident rooms. That project is set to be complete by fall 2012.

Renovations on the Tiger's Den, in the basement of Custer Hall, are nearing completion. The new space will feature a meeting room, recreational room, media room, kitchen, laundry facilities and restrooms. Remodeling is to be complete by July 1 at the absolute latest.

"It (the Tiger's Den) was largely constructed for the KAMS students, but other folks in student residential life can use that as well," said Cunningham.

Finally, an extension to Dwight Drive has passed inspection and will be open to traffic in June. Dwight Drive runs northeast and east through the residence hall area. The extension ends in a connection to Gustad Drive, which leads to Cunningham Hall and Gross Memorial Coliseum.

Academic buildings are also being renovated this summer. Cunningham Hall's central corridors are receiving new paint, floor tile, ceiling tile and grids, and new lighting. The project is to be complete in August.

Rarick Hall is in the first phase of a mechanical system improvement. The second floor is the focus this summer, replacing VAV boxes, which are related to the air systems. The second phase of the project is set to be complete in summer 2013.

"There's enough work to do at each floor level at two and three that we can't do that much work and be that disruptive in one summer, so we're breaking it into two summers," said Cunningham. "The first floor will probably be done as one summer project because there's simply fewer pieces of equipment to replace on that level."

A project for an indoor practice facility at Lewis Field has been awarded, and a pre-construction meeting scheduled for this week. Construction is set to begin in June and be completed in April 2013. The facility will have of a 55-yard artificial--surface football field with one end zone, a strength training room and two team meeting rooms.

"The facility is for use by all outdoor sports: football, soccer, baseball, softball, and all those folks will be using the facility when it opens," said Cunningham.

Some projects planned for campus are still in the early stages, including the Center for Network Learning. Schematic design for the new building is complete and is now in the design development phase. The goal is to place the project out for bids by the end of this year and start construction in early 2013, said Cunningham. A site for the building has been selected west of Tomanek Hall. The structure will sit on part of Tomanek's parking lot and also on the west side of the stream bed.

Cunningham said the plan is not to "fill in" the stream bed. The building, he said, "will physically be a bridge."

Also in the planning stage is the University Wind Energy Project. An application for the project was submitted to Ellis County Planning last week and will likely be on the agenda in late June for a hearing, said Cunningham.

Facilities Planning also selected a company to develop a campus master plan, a project will start this summer and take about a year to complete.

"It's a document which kind of outlines a strategic plan for physical development of the campus for the next 10 years," said Cunningham. "It talks about things like where we might site new buildings, buildings that might be removed, utility improvements, vehicle circulation patterns, pedestrian patterns, bicycle patterns, space utilization and buildings. It's a pretty comprehensive document. It's our first one in about four years."

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