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Shideler construction unearths geography, geology department

Associate VP of Facility Planning and Operation Cody Powell said the Shideler Hall construction is projected to be complete by January 2016.

Photo by Matt Hartshorn

Matt Hartshorn, For The Miami Student

The east side of Shideler Hall now lies in rubble. The building's auditorium has been demolished to make way for a new addition that covers the entire east side.

According to Associate Vice President of Facility Planning and Operation Cody Powell, the project is currently in its beginning stage.

"The first phase of construction is demolition and abatement," Powell said. "Probably the most visible is on the outside of the building."

As for more demolition, Powell said most of that work has already been accomplished, except for perhaps a few minor projects on the outside.

Otherwise, the project is moving ahead.

"What will happen next in the course of this month, in October, we will be negotiating the final contract," Powell said. "We hope to have that all squared away and contracts in place in November and work to commence probably in December if not late November."

A large addition is planned for the east side of the building, which faces the intersection of Patterson Avenue and Route 73. The design is likely to include a cupola, which is a domed structure on a building's roof, and a welcoming, attractive entrance alongside the new auditorium.

In regards to the project's completion, Powell said the project team anticipates its completion and Shideler Hall re-opening by January 2016, in time for the 2016 spring semester.

The reasons for the renovation and expansion are two-fold, Powell said. Shideler's aging and outdated composition is one.

"Shideler, the building itself, has not been renovated since it was built," Powell said. "It's close to 40 years old." He added it was one of the buildings most in need of renovation.

Although the building was still safe for students, Powell commented that the project was well overdue.

The second function of the renovation is to provide Miami's geology and geography department with a new facility that serves their new teaching methods and research.

"The requirements of teaching and research today needed something better than we had," Powell said.

The project team has been in close contact with the geography and geology departments to make sure their needs are fulfilled.

To accommodate for the renovation, however, the geography and geology departments were relocated to Culler Hall before the semester started.

Professor Bruce D'Arcus, chair of the geography department, said the transition has been fairly smooth. One factor of that has been the limited amount of lab equipment the department had to move.

D'Arcus added that Culler Hall has been a sufficient replacement for the time being.

"We haven't had any problem not finding offices and spaces for faculty and staff," D'Arcus said.

Still, there have been a few issues, such as noise levels and leaks in faculty offices, but the department has managed to resolve those minor issues.

As for the numerous trees the university has cut down in the process of these renovations, there are mixed emotions, the geography department included.

"I think a lot of people are sad about [the trees] but recognize it's … out of our hands," D'Arcus said.

Powell said they have been aware of the value Miami places on its trees during the planning and construction processes.

"We spent a lot of the time in the design of this renovation and the new edition in trying to figure out how we could save the majority of the trees," he said. "We did the best that we could to try to save as many as we could."

Another topic surrounding the Shideler renovation is the Shideler globe. Professor D'Arcus said it is currently in storage and will not be returning to its former location in Shideler Hall, though faculty are still trying to determine what to do with it in the future.

The details on its replacement have yet to be figured out, he said.

"The idea is to keep the sort of good characteristics of the globe in the new Shideler," D'Arcus said, "but it will just be in a different form."

Elsewhere, the designers have planned to keep in touch with traditional Miami architecture, with special plans for the renovation.

"The building is at one of our main entry points to campus," Powell said. "As the building was, it was a very underwhelming entry point ... We're taking this opportunity to make sure the building not only functions very well for the academic needs but also creates a very nice entry point for our campus."