As the summer semesters move on, so does construction at Oakland University. Five major construction projects look to completely change the landscape of OU’s 1,143 acre campus, including a new bell tower, athletic complex, housing facility and engineering building slated to open in the fall of 2014.
The summer budget continues to grow for the new engineering building being erected next to Kresge Library, as the the estimated budget of $4 million turns to five.
The original budget projected at $4,495,680 but has now grown to $5,546,462 — an increase of over $1 million dollars.
Susan Riley, the university project manager for the engineering building spoke on the expectations for the project over the next few months and gave insight on the recent budget jump.
“The goal is to be enclosed by the end of the year,” Riley said. “We’re moving north to south and are just getting structures and framework up. We had a little problem in the beginning with the foundation, but that was to be expected.”
Riley went on to explain that large construction projects such as this tend to fluctuate in budget, as it’s hard to predict what measures will need to be taken in the coming months.
“You have weather issues, foundation problems, but all of that was expected,” Riley said. “The contractor is more concerned than I am.”
John Begley, the site manager for the engineering building, spoke on his enthusiasm for the crew and his outlook on the project.
“We have 50 plus men working through the summer, we’re right on track,” Begley said. “Other than working in the heat, there are really no issues that could hold us back. Right now, we’re laying the frame work, and it all looks pretty good.”
The total budget is now set at $75 million, and according to Riley, the summer budget isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
“Everything has been going very smoothly,” Riley said. “There haven’t been any major changes to the project, and I don’t see any coming up anytime soon. We’re on track, moving forward, and we’re going to be on time.”
Recreation and Athletic Complex
Construction is also underway for the new athletic complex, looking to be finished much earlier than the other construction projects on campus.
The facilities will accommodate NCAA Division I athletic events ands intramural sports competitions. as well as having an open tennis court, a track and field and a variety of fitness and recreational activities.
Katie Howard, a junior majoring in design, expressed her excitement for OU’s upcoming additions, specifically for the recreation and athletic complex.
“I think it’s great that we’re not only expanding our opportunities in club sports, but we’re expanding students, as well,” Howard said. “Me and my friends are always running out of things to do on campus, and this should fix that. It’s great that I now have more of an option for exercise.”
The complex is set to open in 2013 and will be available to all OU students.
Possibly the most anticipated project for the summer, the second parking structure to open on OU grounds is on track to be completed with all other construction projects in 2014.
“I like the thought of having a new athletic center, a new housing complex, but I’d much rather have some new parking on campus,” senior Eric Biessener said. “That’s what most people complain about anyways — that they have nowhere to park, that it makes them late and they hate walking. I think this project is a long time coming.”
The structure will include four levels for parking, providing almost 1000 new spaces for OU students. The structure will also be located near seven academic buildings and is projected to boost available parking on campus by 10 percent.
Elliot Carillon Tower
Construction has yet to start for the 151-foot tower to be erected next to Kresge Library.
Carillon Tower is scheduled to complete alongside most of OU’s other construction projects in September of 2014, and will cost $6.5 million, donated by the Hugh and Nancy Elliot.
The perimeter of the tower is currently blocked off, obscuring several walkways previously accessible to students. General construction on the base is set to begin over the summer semester.
Students hope it will raise moral and affirm to newcomers that OU is a major university.
“I think this project will bring a lot of hope to the students,” junior and vocal performance major Kimberly Marie said. “I think it’ll definitely raise spirits, and it proves that someone cares about us. Someone has hope in this university.”
Nick Straub, a sophomore majoring in communications, spoke on his experience coming in to OU, and how that might change for future students.
“I remember thinking that the university was big, but there wasn’t any one thing that really wowed me about it. I think that everyone coming in is going to look at it and think that this is the real deal,” Straub said.
Student Housing Complex
Construction on the new student complex is booming and looks to be on track for its opening in 2014.
The complex, set to house 500 residents, is in the early stages of development. Associate Vice President to Facilities Management Terry Stollsteimer recently spoke on his optimism for the complex.
“We’re happy to be accommodating the students with something that was in such high demand,” Stollsteimer said. “The project really speaks to the growth of the university, as well as it’s hopes for the future.”
The groundbreaking for the building commenced April 16 with little construction work following. According to Stollsteimer, construction right now is preliminary and major structures won’t be going up until the fall.
“The construction right now looks to be running smoothly, and is just setting the ground work for the new building,” Stollsteimer said. “Getting the base ready hasn’t proved to be tricky so for, but with the hot months coming, the weather might turn into a problem.”
The student voice on the project has been mixed with a clear concern about how the project will affect parking.
“You would think that because it’s the summer, parking wouldn’t be as bad,” Lexxy Schubert, a sophomore minoring in nursing, said. “But because of the new housing building, I have to fight for a parking spot every day.”
Schubert said that on average she spends 15 minutes searching for a parking spot, reflective of her average time of 20 minutes in the fall and winter semesters.
“Everyone I know said that parking wasn’t a problem in the summer, which is why I chose to take classes now instead of in the fall,” said Schubert. “You only need to look at the parking lot outside of the health building to realize that’s a lie. I’m not sure it’s just because of the construction, but it’s a nuisance.”
The project is estimated to cost $30 million. The summer budget is set at $2 million.