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University construction remains on track

Victoria Slater, For The Miami Student

For the typical Miami University student, the daily trajectory to class includes the sight of construction work: cranes, bulldozers, dirt piles, framework of buildings yet to be completed.

The construction efforts on campus have been in place for six months, according to Robert Keller, associate vice president of facility planning and operation. The majority of the work has adhered to the original schedule, and will continue into the summer of 2014.

"We have anywhere between 30 or 50 projects going on across campus at this time, which ranges from renovating a classroom to the student center," Keller said. "At this point, all the contracts have been let. We have a budget established now, and it is really about staying on schedule, and completing everything by 2014."

Currently, the most substantial project-the Armstrong Student Center (ASC)-has been active since October 2011 and is scheduled for completion in January 2014.

"Construction began last fall so the project has been under construction for a little less than a year at this point," Keller said.

Keller noted that the ASC is one of various projects going on in the heart of campus. This particular plan will fashion a student union that will eventually replace Shriver Center by renovating three halls on Spring Street: Gaskill, Rowan and Culler.

"We are building a new building between three existing buildings that will eventually connect all three of them together," Keller said. "The existing buildings will be renovated into student centers.

He added that the project will be completed in two phases. Phase one is underway, and phase two will begin next year.

First-year Courtney Verh said she is anticipating the completion of the new student center.

"I'm excited to see the new student center," Verh said. "It will be cool to see the new facilities, and fun to experience the expansion of the university as the population of students grows."

However, Verh said she likes what Shriver has to offer.

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In addition to the ASC, significant construction efforts exist on Maple Street, where, according to Keller, the groundwork for a food service center is in place.

"You will see a lot of activity down Maple Street, we've got the new food service facility called Maple Street Station," he said. "It will feature seven food venues, each with its own décor and own menu, and its own main entry. There will also be a residence hall in the second floor above that."

The equestrian center is also undergoing substantial renovation.

According to riding instructor Lori Cramer, the outdoor riding arenas will be raised and leveled from the floodplain, using 10,000 cubic yards of fill from other projects around campus.

"The university will be providing a large fill area to bring the center out of the Four Mile Creek flood plain," Cramer said.

Consequently, the heightened center will be able to harbor the expansion of barns and riding arenas. Additionally, Cramer said that as the university is utilizing fill from construction sites such as Maple Street Station and ASC, substantial amounts of money will be saved.

As a result of the restoration to the area, the Miami equestrian team is practicing offsite in two different locations: one in Oxford, and the other in Indiana. Furthermore, the Introduction to Horseback Riding class has been cancelled for the semester.

"Because of [the construction] we must manage separate offsite locations and temporarily cancel our intro to horseback riding classes," Cramer said.

Despite this drawback, Cramer emphasized her anticipation for the completion of the construction, and enhancements it will bring in tow. These include improved footing for horses during lessons, and space to accommodate a potential indoor riding arena.

"We are looking forward to coming back on site in the spring and returning to regular programming and enjoying the improvements to the site, and to the university as a whole," Cramer said.