Construction workers will become ubiquitous on the KU campus in the next several years.
After years of neglect, Kansas University is about to undergo a major facelift.
About $44.2 million in construction and renovation projects are planned on the Lawrence campus in the next three to four years, paid for by a $163 million "crumbling classrooms" bond sale approved by the 1996 Kansas Legislature.
Combined with other building projects now under way, and others that have been in the works, students can expect detours, hardhat areas and occasional interruptions for some time.
"We're always busy, but now we're even busier," said Dave Schaecher, capital improvement manager in KU's design and construction management office.
The bonds, to be repaid with revenue from an existing statewide tax, will be used to bring the campus into compliance with fire codes and to make it more accessible to students and staff with disabilities -- a requirement of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mechanical and electrical systems and classrooms and laboratories will also be upgraded.
About half of the $44.2 million will pay for:
- $9.7 million in renovations and additions to Murphy Hall, a performing arts building.
- $12 million in renovations and an addition at the Joseph R. Pearson Residence Hall for the School of Education.
The bonds will also pay for:
- $3.4 million in renovations at Malott Hall, a science building.
- $2.1 million in renovations in Strong Hall, the main administration building.
- $1 million for a new boiler in the campus power plant.
This summer Schaecher was working on a database to keep track of many smaller renovation projects, some of which will cost as little as $5,000.
The first set of bonds won't be sold until December or January, but funds have been borrowed from other project accounts so consultants could get started on designs.
For project managers, one of the biggest challenges will be minimizing disruptions during the school year.
"There will be some inconvenience on campus while we're trying to do some of these," Schaecher said.
When possible, work will be scheduled around classes.
Meanwhile, work continues on the $22 million construction of Budig Hall, a classroom building on the site of the old Hoch Auditorium and now scheduled for completion early next year; on an addition at the Watkins Health Center, due to be completed next spring; and on construction of the Bales Organ Recital Hall next to the Lied Center, scheduled for dedication Oct. 7.
And Templin Hall, a residence hall, is undergoing a major renovation in an effort to stem the flow of students away from campus housing and into private apartments. When it reopens in the fall of 1997, Templin's rooms will feature private baths and bedrooms and living areas that will be more like private apartments than dormitories.
The university is also in the midst of upgrading its storm sewer system, which sometimes causes traffic detours.
And that's not all, folks. Administrators are studying proposals to build a new parking garage, and to renovate another residence hall, and the athletics department is studying its immediate and long-term needs.
"We'd rather be busy than not busy," Schaecher said.