Campus construction to continue over summer

The majority of students and faculty/staff members have left Western’s campus, but one group still remains for the entirety of summer: the construction workers. Phase 3 of The Quad is now taking place as well as the completion of the Health and Human Sciences building. The expected project of making Harrill Hall green, however, might not happen.

For Phase 3, Wiley Harris, director of facilities planning, design and construction, and his team are working to finish the walkways to connect Blue Ridge dorm hall, the Courtyard Dining Hall, and the surrounding courtyard areas. Due to this construction, pedestrian and vehicle traffic patterns around the area will be affected until the end of June.

For the Health and Human Sciences building, also dubbed “the Nursing building,” the building is “approximately 85 percent complete at this time,” said Harris. “We continue to emphasize the completing this project with anticipation of full occupancy for Spring semester 2012.”

The project has not gone over budget nor do Harris and his team expect construction costs to go over the provided budget.

The other major construction project that was supposed to happen was making Harrill Hall eco-friendly. However, the project may not happen due to budget issues.

“The original plan was to have it completed for fall semester 2012, but bids were received on Thursday, May 12, and they exceeded the budget,” Harris said. “We are working with the designer and contractor to value engineer the project to see if we can bring it within the available funding and still be an acceptable project.”

Based on the results, Harris and his staff will determine whether they can move forward or have to wait. If the project is cancelled for the time being, Residential Living will make the call by June of whether students will be moving into the dormitory in the fall.

The cost to update Harrill Hall into a green dormitory is estimated to be around $500,000, a rise from the original cost estimation due to “the options we chose for sustainability and LEED certification,” Harris said. He added that “the added value is far greater for the environment.”

To make a dormitory green, the Facilities Planning, Design and Construction team will use materials that have either already been recycled or can be recycled when they expire. Heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other systems must work to save and cut back on energy and water usage. Solar panels will be adorned to the roof to catch the sun’s rays which will be used to heat water and reduce taking energy from the power grid. To reduce the taking water from the water plant, a rain water collector will be installed. Water from there will “be used in systems not requiring potable water,” Harris explained.

While it is unsure of whether Harrill Hall will get its environmentally friendly transformation this summer, the future plan is to not only use “green thinking” with residential halls but also all future building projects. This does not mean a complete transformation of every building on campus, but to use recyclable and sustainable materials in the building projects that will arise down the road.

When families return to move their students in on “Moving Day”, Harris announced that all projects on campus should be wrapping up. There may be some minor construction to polish up the projects, but nothing that will inhibit traffic patterns. However, the Harrill Hall parking lot will not be available if the hall gets the green light for updating.

“The fall semester of 2011 should be one of the less disruptive due to construction for over a decade,” said Harris “Our projects are winding down and new ones are impacted by available funding.”