Archive for Sunday, September 22, 1996


September 22, 1996


The largest building renovation program in KU history -- called "Crumbling Classrooms" -- is about to begin.

Spending millions of dollars to repair all the crumbling buildings on Kansas University's campus will create a giant four-year mess.

The biggest project on the list, a $12-million renovation of Joseph R. Pearson Residence Hall for the School of Education, will stir plenty of dust on West Campus Road.

That will be accompanied by $32 million in construction, renovation and repair work on about 60 other campus buildings.

"The projects are going to cause at least some minor inconvenience," said Douglas Riat, associate director of KU's design and construction management office.

Water and electrical service disruptions ought to be anticipated. Entrances must be blocked until handicapped accessible. Stairwells will be off limits while enclosed for fire safety reasons. Classrooms and laboratories will be temporarily unusable while under renovation.

Of course, the sound of workers proceeding with the largest building improvement program in KU history will be music to the ears of students and faculty weary of antiquated classrooms, laboratories and offices.

"I've seen sinks in Malott that I used when I was 14 at a summer science camp. I was nauseated from extreme sadness," said Dr. John Hiebert, a Lawrence member of the Kansas Board of Regents.

The regents approved a plan Thursday that authorized sale of bonds to finance $163.6 million in projects at KU and five other regents universities.

KU's main campus in Lawrence gets $44.2 million. KU Medical Center receives $19.4 million.

Debt will be paid over 15 years with revenue from an existing statewide property tax.

The program was passed by the 1996 Legislature and approved by Gov. Bill Graves after a two-year lobbying campaign.

About 75 state and university architectural staff and 30 architectural firms are already collaborating to design projects included in the massive undertaking.

Cash should be available to universities in November, but work won't begin until early next year. Pace of construction will pick up during the spring semester.

KU plans to spend $9.7 million for an addition to Murphy Hall, the performing arts building. Construction of new music practice areas will absorb $7.7 million, with about $1.7 million devoted to renovating existing spaces.

"It's at least one year of construction," Riat said. "There's no way we can say there will be no disruption from construction noise, dust and debris."

He said KU staff would work with contractors to schedule classroom and laboratory remodeling during summer months when fewer students and faculty are on campus.

Another $2.3 million will be thrown at Strong Hall, the central administration building. Nearly $840,000 will address fire code infractions. Each stairwell must be enclosed to isolate floors in case of fire.

"Codes change over a period of years," Riat said. "Requirements to meet today's standards are significantly different than 20 years ago."

KU budgeted $3.9 million for Malott Hall, a classroom and laboratory complex. More than $1.6 million will be used for renovation, $1.4 million for classrooms, $440,000 to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and $388,000 for fire safety.

Other projects budgeted at $500,000 or more:

  • $1.2 million for Art & Design, with the bulk -- more than $800,000 -- for classroom improvements.
  • $1 million for Learned Hall, home of the engineering school. Nearly half of the money is aimed at fire code violations.
  • $1 million to upgrade the KU power plant.
  • $845,000 for Dyche Hall, location of the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center. More than $500,000 is for general repairs.
  • $818,000 at Robinson Center, the campus recreational facility.
  • $812,000 at Military Science, with $223,000 for classrooms, $220,000 for ADA and $102,000 for fire safety.
  • $643,000 for Green Hall, the law school. Nearly $200,000 will fix fire and ADA infractions.
  • $634,000 for Spooner Hall, location of the KU Museum of Anthropology. General repair and handicapped accessibility are the priorities.
  • $581,000 for Nichols Hall on West Campus.
  • $563,000 for Watson Library, the central library building. The entire amount is for renovation and repair.
  • $533,000 for Bailey Hall, which will be vacated by the education school upon completion of the JRP overhaul.
  • $526,000 for Fraser Hall, a big classroom and office structure on Jayhawk Boulevard. About $325,000 is for ADA and fire problems.

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