Summer construction spending at UR totaled roughly $50 million, a significant jump from the $15-20 million the University usually spends on off-season construction, repairs, and maintenance.
Even as students celebrated the end of classes and packed up to go on vacation, administrators, Facilities workers, and external contractors ramped up for a full summer of work.
“The day after Commencement starts significant emphasis on construction projects,” said Bruce Bashwiner, Associate Vice President for University Facilities and Services. This summer, he noted, was much busier than usual.
With the ongoing construction of Wegmans Hall, the renovation of the Frederick Douglass Building, and the installation of a campus swing set, among other projects, UR spent approximately three times the usual figure on campus improvement this summer. This total includes the repair and maintenance of existing campus infrastructure, extensive renovations, or even the construction of entire new buildings by firms like Welliver, LeChase Construction, and Pike Construction.
One of the longest-running projects is the renovation of the Frederick Douglass Building, complete with a new dining hall and a student event space. Work on the buildingbegan in October 2014, when the campus bookstore, previously located on the first floor of the building, moved to College Town. The space it previously occupied will become the new Douglass Dining Center, affectionately known to students and staff as “New Dougie,” after being under construction for the entire summer and most of the previous semester.
Contrary to a rumor that had been circulating among students, the new dining hall is expected to open in time for the start of the fall semester.
“We will be moving into the second floor kitchen this week and are planning to open the first floor dining areas beginning next Wednesday [August 24], as originally planned,” Cam Schauf, Director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations, said in an email.
Schauf added that a new iteration of the popular Grab n’ Go service, a bagged lunch retailer, is scheduled to open its doors Sept. 7.
Rush Rhees Library will also re-open its doors this fall after a suite of renovations to the first floor lobby and circulation area. The project, part of an extensive plan to modernize and update the building and its resources, fell under some scrutiny last fall when the removal of two wooden tables in the library entrance prompted a student petition for their return. The tables were returned temporarily during the spring semester but ultimately moved elsewhere in the library to make way for the new Evans Lam Square.
The project was completed over the summer, and opened to the public on Aug. 24, although Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries Mary Ann Mavrinac said that “as with any project, we will still be working on some of the small details after we open.”
One such detail is the first floor restrooms in the library, which were converted to gender-neutral restrooms.
“We had to seek a variance from the State to proceed with gender neutral restrooms,” she said.
Approval for the restrooms was granted just one month prior to the start of the fall semester, enabling the construction of the restrooms in keeping with a campus-wide effort toward more inclusive restroom facilities, begun last year by the Students’ Association Government (SA).
Construction of a bridge between Lam Square and the Frederick Douglass Building will also continue into the fall semester, Bashwiner said.
The second floor Business and Government Information Library (located off Rush Rhees’ Great Hall) is being converted to a Humanities Center, a project that is scheduled for completion sometime in September, Mavrinac said.
Across campus, more projects are underway.
Construction of the brand-new Wegmans Hall, future home of UR’s fledgling data science program, is ongoing but not expected to be completed until early 2017.
The new building will house the Goergen Institute for Data Science, as well as offices for computer science faculty, computer science research labs, and offices for the Department of Chemical Engineering, previously located in nearby Gavett Hall. No new classrooms or lecture halls are included in the new building, said Henry Kautz, who is the Robin & Tim Wentworth Director of the Goergen Institute for Data Science and a professor in the Department of Computer Science. When the building opens, there will be a cafe on the first floor.
Construction has occupied the nearby Science and Engineering Quad as well, blocking popular pedestrian access routes to Hylan Hall, Carlson Library, and Hutchison Hall. However, those routes will soon be accessible once again.
There’s a good deal of activity planned on that quad for Meliora [Weekend], so the science and engineering quad will be usable [by October 5],” Bashwiner said.
Intercampus Drive Lot, which runs the length of campus adjacent to Mt. Hope Cemetery, was also under construction for part of the summer, but, according to Bashwiner, “the lot is ready for full use” for the fall semester, with 13 new parking spaces added.
At the north end of campus, the hillside between Susan B. Anthony Residence Halls and Fauver Stadium is the site of a future freshman dorm and will remain under construction until fall 2017. A name has not been announced for the new dorm building, but it will contain athletic facilities.
Nearby, in the grassy picnic area in front of Susan B. Anthony., a campus swingset has been installed. The swingset was a runner-up in last semester’s 5K Challenge (an initiative adopted by SA to fund student ideas with grants of $5000 per year).
In addition to the major projects and new buildings, UR Facilites has orchestrated several other improvements to campus, including repairs to the brickwork at the top of the Goergen Athletic Center (which will continue into the next few months), construction of a new press box for Fauver Stadium, and numerous smaller projects.