October 15, 2004
Phone: (504) 865-5714
Everything old is new again. The academic year starts amid a spate of construction across the Uptown campus that will update how the university looks and functions.
All but new employees, incoming freshmen and those vacationing on Pluto the last few months are aware that the biggest change taking place is at the site of the University Center.
An extensive gutting of the building has largely marked the massive renovation, which began last January and is targeted for completion in January 2006.
According to Mike Jester, director of capital projects, the demolition revealed the need to perform some additional repair to the existing structure, such has fixing hairline cracking of the second-floor slab.
This work is currently being coordinated with Broadmoor Construction Co., the general contractor. It is unknown at this time if the construction schedule will be affected by this work, said Jester. Anyone walking by the UC site may have noticed new construction going up, as well.
According to Jester, the steel and concrete structure that has materialized in Pocket Park is the framework for a twostory space that will house the campus bookstore. On the northwest corner of the site, behind the Newcomb dean's house, construction is under way on another two-story addition. This one will accommodate mechanical and electrical systems on its first floor and meeting and food-service space on its second floor.
Construction also has begun on what is being called "residence hall No. 1" at the former site of Zemurray Hall on Willow Street. Workers finished pouring the foundation last month, and the job is on schedule for completion in July 2005, said Jester.
"The hardest part of any construction is getting out of the ground," he added. A second residence hall, aptly dubbed "residence hall No. 2," is currently in the design stage, said Jester. The structure will go up on the corner of Newcomb Place and Willow Street, and will occupy the space that has long accommodated Doris Hall and New Doris Hall.
"Old Doris" has already been demolished and New Doris also will be razed sometime next year. New Doris is currently still in use as a student residence and the schedule for its demolition will be contingent on the availability of student housing.
"It's possible that if space is available and it is reasonable to do so, we may relocate students out of New Doris and start work next spring," said Jester. "If not, then work will not start on the demolition until the end of May or June."
Currently, occupancy for the facility is slated for August 2006. Finally, look for a flurry of activity around Turchin Stadium that has nothing to do with bats and balls. Preliminary work on a project to replace the baseball venue with a new stadium with a larger capacity and improved amenities is under way. The bulk of the work won't start until June 2005, said Jester, but the university is currently taking bids for a contractor to relocate a city water main that currently runs beneath the field.
That work should begin this month, said Jester, who also expects to see renovation of the stadium's entrance to begin this year. "The thought is to open up the entranceway so it is more prominent and more attractive to fans," said Jester. Sizeler Architects of New Orleans is the architectural firm of record, and will be working in conjunction with HOK, a national sports venue architectural firm.
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