Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

$4.8M in Wescoe renovations approved

February 15, 2007


The Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday approved $4.8 million in renovations to Wescoe Hall, the much-maligned, 1970s-era building in the heart of the Kansas University campus.

It's an expansion of a project that's already been approved - but that grew in scope after KU employees realized that warping of the concrete slab under the building's first floor was worse than they thought. Over time, the clay and shale under the building have pushed upward on the concrete slab, causing it to warp.

In addition to replacing the slab, the project will involve:

¢ Reconfiguring office space to make way for 10 new classrooms.

¢ Building a new handicapped-accessible entrance on the building's south side.

¢ Making fire code improvements.

¢ Installing a new, $1.35 million heating and air-conditioning system.

The project approval comes as employees await word of a study undertaken last year to evaluate the air quality of Wescoe and the health histories of people who have worked there. The study, led by John Neuberger, a professor in the KU School of Medicine's preventive medicine and public health department, came about after employees reported that a seemingly high number of people working in the building developed brain tumors.

Last summer, the word was that Neuberger's study might be done by January, but KU spokeswoman Lynn Bretz said it was taking longer than expected to contact employees. Bretz said that when the study is finished, KU will hold a meeting with Wescoe Hall's staff to discuss the results.

Dodie Coker, an administrative assistant in the philosophy department, said she hasn't heard anything around her workplace about the study's progress, and that the subject has died down in recent months.

"I don't know anybody that they've talked to," she said. "It's not brought up anymore."

Bretz said the new heating and air-conditioning system is not directly related to the concerns about the building's air quality. With the slab being repaired, she said, it made sense to work on the air system as well.

"It is 30-plus years old," Bretz said. "It's toward the end of its lifespan."

The money for the renovations comes from a combination of interest on tuition dollars and from a statewide property tax that sets aside money each year for higher-education building repairs.

Initially, KU crews planned to replace the slab only under the south portion of the building, at a cost of $1 million. But recently they've noticed similar problems on the north side of the building, said Jim Modig, director of KU design and construction management, and thought it would be wiser to combine all the work into one contract.

The project is expected to be finished in summer 2008.


busymom 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm assuming fire code improvements include the tiles and lights that are coming out of the ceiling on the first floor of Wescoe.

KS 10 years, 9 months ago

It ought to be torn down and replaced with something that fits in on the campus. Ugly building.

terrapin2 10 years, 9 months ago

KS Are you kidding? What a lame-ass comment to make. It may be ugly but who the hell is going to pay for that??? Are you going to help pay for that? Our State legislature is arguing over how to pay for the back-log of maintenance on EXISTING buildings on campus, so how in the world can you suggest that the State/KU spend even more money to get rid of a building that is still in good condition, and then pay to build a new one? Not to mention the millions that have already been invested in the renovations that are currently underway.

bd 10 years, 9 months ago


dirkleisure 10 years, 9 months ago

According to the Regents website, this building requires $6.846 million in "maintenance."

I'm assuming that amount should now be reduced by $4.8 million? Would that not be a relevant point to be included in this story?

Would it also be relevant to report in this story how much is currently being spent on Wescoe? That figure is $3.5 million.

Looks to me like the Regents should take Wescoe Hall off the list. They say it requires $6.8 million in work, and here KU is spending $8.3 million on it.

snowWI 10 years, 9 months ago

The lighting in Wescoe is about the worst I have ever seen in any building. Flourescent lighting with "colorized panels" that cover the perimeter of the hallways. There are shadows everywhere in the building because the lighting is so terrible.

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