UPDATE: Campus construction progresses over summer
Every true Minnesotan knows the land of 10,000 lakes has only two real seasons: construction season and Winter. However, for a college with over fifty buildings and 244 acres of property, the construction season at the University of Minnesota Duluth is a seemingly never ending project. Operations Manager Chris Stevens and the Director of Facilities Management, John Rashid, are the first to know about past, current and future construction around the campus.
Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building (HCAMS)
The biggest project currently happening on campus is the addition of the new $44.6 million Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building. According to Rashid, who has been tasked with overseeing the project, the construction of this three story, 56,000 square foot building is slated to last roughly a year and a half and is on schedule for a soft opening in January 2019.
“I think that the quality of the building will be second to none. It’s just going to be beautiful in there,” said Rashid. “The money was approved last year on July 1st. We started construction on July 6th, and have been working like crazy ever since.”
Stevens is also excited about the project.
“It’ll have really amazing labs and tons of natural light” said Chris, “It’s going to really be a benefit to our campus”.
Renovations in Romano Gym, which serves as home court to the UMD basketball and volleyball teams, is currently in the middle of a $5.8 million upgrade that is scheduled to be completed in mid-September. The money was used to upgrade both the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) in the main gym, as well as to replace the floor in both the main and small gym.
As Stevens explained, “It can get up to 90 degrees in there during welcome week, and there’s no air conditioning. It’s just not a good first experience for students.”
According to Rashid, the HVAC system needed to be upgraded before the floor was replaced because extreme humidity in the gym could cause the floor to start buckling. The gym’s new flooring is the same material used by the Minnesota Timberwolves and many other facilities around the country.
“It’s going to help with the wear-and-tear on people’s bodies,” Stevens said. “It’s a pretty amazing product.”
The basketball hoops in the gym have also been replaced, swapping out ceiling mounted hoops for floor mounted ones, as used by most D1 and professional teams.
UMD’s ice rink is hoping to begin a $3.6 million upgrade in January, as long as they get approval from the Board of Regents sometime in early September. The rink was closed briefly last winter after mold was found in the ceiling tiles as a result of an outdated dehumidification system that struggled to keep up during warm summer months.
Despite the mold being removed and the building deemed safe for students, the rink will remain ice-free until both a new HVAC system and ice refrigerant system has been installed.
The reason for the new coolant system, Stevens says, is because the current model they use is being discontinued in 2020. He also noted that switching from a synthetic refrigerant to an ammonia based system is both safer and more environmentally friendly. If approved to start construction in January, the rink will be closed for the spring semester until completion next summer.
The Multi-Cultural Center is another building slated for an upgrade next Summer.
“The project is about 700 thousand dollar and is basically a face lift in there,” Rashid said.
The upgrades will likely include new carpet, paint, and lighting, among other things.
“The intention is to try and better utilize the space in there” Stevens said. “I envision it being much more open and friendly so dialogue can happen among diverse groups.”