Campus construction to continue for decades
Published: Friday, November 1, 2013
Updated: Sunday, November 3, 2013 17:11
Miami University students are no strangers to construction. Nearly all sections of campus have some sort of new construction, renovation or remodel going on at any given time.
According to Senior Director for Auxiliary Planning and Facilities Matthew Frericks, all of this construction is part of a 20-year plan for improving Miami’s campus.
“Miami developed a comprehensive Long Range Housing Plan (LRHP) starting in 2005 and was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2010,” Frericks said. “The plan addresses the complete renovation of virtually all existing residence halls and dining locations.”
Frericks said the plan is in place to address several different issues. Buildings must be updated to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, have up to date fire and emergency accommodations as well as have elevators installed.
Other improvements include updated heating and air-conditioning, cable, electric and plumbing systems, as well as improving exterior insulation and adding more windows to existing buildings.
Associate Vice President of Facility Planning and Operations Cody Powell said he agrees that the current focus is on residential buildings.
“We have focused pretty heavily on the renovation or construction of academic buildings in the past decade, so now attention is needed with these other facilities,” Powell said.
Powell said most of the residence halls at Miami are nearing 50 to 60 years old and are in need of significant renovations.
“We tend to build buildings well and try to maintain them, but at this age, it makes sense to modernize and replace aging systems,” Powell said.
According to Frericks, the residential construction going on now includes the addition of three residence halls on Western Campus as well as Maplestreet Station and Etheridge Halls, along with the renovation of Anderson and McFarland Halls.
Frericks said the construction of new halls allows for “swing space,” which means that extra living space is provided for on-campus students while other halls are unusable due to renovations.
Currently, Maplestreet Station and Etheridige Hall are being used as “swing space” for Anderson and McFarland halls until they can both be reopened next year.
Powell said the addition of the three new residence halls on Western Campus will also improve the amount of “swing space” for future construction.
“This will likely complete the new construction and will give us the capacity to take existing residence halls off-line for renovation,” Powell said.
While the 20-year plan has tried to leave the amount of rooms on campus undisturbed, the construction is still having an effect on student life.
Freshman Brandilyn Wilkerson experiences the issues each day as a resident of Western Campus.
“If the new form construction wasn’t going on I’d have a quicker walk to classes because I wouldn’t have to walk around the construction,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson also says safety has been a concern around the construction site.
“It kind of creepy at night having to walk home next to the construction sites,” Wilkerson said. “They’re supposed to be empty but we all know people go back there.”
With new construction complete after next year, the focus will move to renovation of existing buildings. Powell said East Quad will be renovated in summer 2014, when Dorsey, McBride, Collins, Symmes, Dennison, and Erickson Halls are all updated. Frericks said residence halls will continue to be renovated until 2026, when Peabody Hall is schedule to be renovated.
Powell said the reason for focusing on renovation, rather than new construction is often a cost and conservation concern.
“If we can reuse existing buildings through renovation, this is our preference as it usually saves us up to 30 percent of the construction cost versus building an entirely new building,” Powell said.
Frericks said cost is a significant element of the 20-year construction plan.
“The cost of implementing the LRHP is in the hundreds of millions of dollars at its completion,” Frericks said.
Funding for the many construction projects comes from several different sources. Powell said funding from the State of Ohio can cover only projects for academic buildings, but not residence halls and dining facilities.
These project can be covered using reserve funding from the university, as well as through bond money which can be paid of by the fees from Housing, Dining, Recreation & Business Services when part of the fees are allocated to it.
Powell said along with these funds, gifts and generosity from supporters of Miami also help cover the costs.
While residence and dining halls are currently the focus, Powell said academic buildings have not been left behind.
“We want to continue renovating academic spaces to meet the needs of our students and faculty,” Powell said. “This will largely be contingent upon funding from the State.”
Powell said the next academic buildings up for renovation are Kreger and Shidler Halls.
Powell said the 20-year plan will entail almost constant construction as it is carried out.
“With close to 200 buildings in campus, we will always have the need to be performing some level if renovations,” Powell said.