Starting after graduation May 17, the flurry of activity on the Kansas University campus has consisted not of backpacks or buzzing brain waves but of backhoes and buzz saws.
It's no coincidence that orange construction fences outnumber students right now on the Kansas University campus.
Like a ski resort waiting until after the tourists go the way of the melting snow, KU uses the two weeks of peace and quiet after graduation -- and the two months of relative inactivity that follow -- to tackle some of the more traffic-unfriendly projects.
The plethora of renovations, installations and improvements include multiple efforts in the Allen Fieldhouse and Hoglund-Maupin Stadium area, classroom facelifts all over campus and a new electrical loop system that will eventually circle Mount Oread. In all, and not counting the massive overhaul under way at Memorial Stadium, the upgrades planned for the summer total about $6 million.
Tom Hutton, university spokesman, said that any inconveniences caused by the projects should be looked at as a ``short-term pain, long-term gain.
``This will bring a better University of Kansas, just bear with us,'' Hutton said.
Much of the classroom work is tackled during the summer months, ``so that we reduce our impact on the day-to-day academic programs,'' said Jim Modig, campus director of design and construction management.
Buildings targeted for summer makeovers include Learned Hall, Summerfield Hall, Malott Hall, Stauffer-Flint Hall, Watson Library, Twente Hall, Blake Hall, Strong Hall, Green Hall and the Art and Design Building. Classroom facelifts include painting, replacing floors and revamping lighting systems.
``Some of the lighting has been in there for 30 to 40 years, so it's a little antiquated,'' Modig said.
Workers will also be installing media cabinets, audio-video systems and datalines for Internet access.
Improvements to campus parking are also under way, including the demolition of the garage west of Jayhawker Towers apartments.
``Weather permitting, we'll have that facility back in operation as a surface parking lot by the start of the fall semester,'' Modig said.
At the southwest edge of the main campus, four projects are going on simultaneously: the construction of an elevator tower south of the fieldhouse, the expansion of the baseball stadium, construction of an auxiliary gymnasium near the fieldhouse and parking lot and electrical improvements.
``That's a real war zone down there south of the fieldhouse,'' said university architect Warren Corman.
`Return to normal'
At Murphy Hall, parts of which were badly damaged by a severely leaking roof over Thanksgiving break, classrooms are being spruced up with new sprung wood floors and eventually new ceilings and black drapes. In addition, the ceilings, floors and portions of the stage inside Crafton-Preyer Theatre that were withered by water have been almost completely repaired and redone.
Mercifully, many of the antique and irreplaceable props damaged in the storage area were dried out, refinished, and remain usable.
``Most of it is simply a return to normal,'' said Jim Peterson, University Theatre's technical director.
Added Kathy Pryor, associate director of University Theatre: ``They waited until after classes were over so that it wouldn't disrupt anything. ... It works out pretty well.''
Other prospective or current summer projects include building of the Malott Garden northwest of Malott, completion of the connecting floor between Budig Hall and Anschutz Science Library, improvements to campus lighting east of Carruth O'Leary and Joseph R. Pearson Hall, and construction of the visitors center parking lot west of Templin Residence Hall.
Overall, 20 contractors and more than 80 subcontractors will be hammering away in the summer sun.
``We've got a lot of people up here working,'' Modig said. ``Hopefully, when (students) return they'll find it looks a lot better than when they left.''
-- Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is email@example.com.