Grass and sidewalks have been dug up, caution signs are displayed around campus, parking has been roped off and the noise level of new structures coming to life is loud. Luckily most students wear headphones when getting from point A to point B anyway.
“I feel like I’m in a construction zone,” said Tina Xu, a junior in biology.
Xu recently moved into the Donna Garff Marriott Honors Community, on-campus housing for honors students. The construction around campus adds to the already stressful situation of moving into a new place.
Waking up for 8 a.m. summer classes and learning to navigate around the construction takes Xu about 15 minutes, which she says isn’t too much of a burden.
She does worry about the construction making travel less accessible for some students, such as those in wheel chairs. Xu thinks if the construction continues through the semester then there will be resentment from students.
Her biggest concern with the machinery and caution signs, however, is the fact that she felt ill-informed about the construction on campus. Parking was roped off for more than a week before signs were put up explaining why. Xu also does not know what is being built or why and feels there may not be enough transparency.
Shireen Ghorbani, communication specialist with the U’s Facilities Management, said most information regarding construction can be found online. There is also a mobile app called Route U that shows the quickest way to travel on campus.
The smaller construction projects range from adding chilled water pipelines, which improve cooling and air conditioning, to electrical infrastructures. But much larger projects are breaking ground too.
The George S. Eccles Student Life Center is scheduled to open January of 2015. Ghobrani said it will be a “great addition to campus.” The Student Life Center will offer more recreational activities than the current workout facilities on campus, such as a climbing center and pools.
The Lassonde Studios, a residential and learning space for student entrepreneurs, will feature a tinkering workshop. This structure will take out 160 parking spaces while in the building process, but 165 spaces will be added back. The completion of the building is estimated for spring of 2016 and will be open for students that fall.
The Basketball Training Facility, near the Huntsman Center, is being designed by the architects who created the main arena for the most recent Olympics. The facility will be used for the men’s and women’s basketball programs. It will contain two gymnasiums, film rooms, locker rooms, lounge areas, a nutrition center and a media center. Crews hope to finish in the summer of 2015.
More new buildings include the Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Science Building, with a December 2014 finishing date, the S.J. Quinney College of Law building, opening in early 2015, and expansion of the Kennecott Building, set to be done in April 2015.
Xu is also worried about student parking, but Facilities Management planned for that. The Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot and the parking lot below the Marriott Library will be open. The U is also working with Pioneer Theatre to find more options.
Additionally, there are two parking structures under construction to address student concerns.
The Northwest Parking Garage is anticipated to provide 300 parking stalls. Its construction will start in midsummer, near the Naval Sciences Building.
Near the business loop, the Central Parking Garage will be much bigger, with plans to provide 800 parking stalls.
Ghorbani encourages students to use public transit as much as possible during the construction process. She said students should take advantage of their free pass to transportation with the Utah Transit Authority.
The U is trying to take advantage of summer to complete as much construction as possible, but some will spill over into
“We apologize for that,” Ghorbani said. “But we have to take advantage of the low population [on campus].”
Xu’s concerns regarding a more accessible campus are also being met with the construction.
A new sidewalk will be built this summer between Orson Spencer Hall and the Union. This area will be replaced with wide sidewalks instead of stairs.
The Access Committee, a subcommittee hosted through the Office of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action, is working with the new buildings to identify places where more accessibility can be added.
Ghorbandi said the U is doing all they can to build the kind of campus people want to be on.
“We are really excited and really proud of all we do to keep campus humming,” she said.