Historic buildings on campus soon get makeover
University of Oregon’s campus needs about $15-25 million per year in maintenance to run efficiently, but in recent years, UO has only received between $4 to $5 million.
Even worse, old structures on campus usually don’t conform to current codes, like seismic code, energy-efficiency code, or “comfort” code, which includes problems with heating systems, air conditioning or elevators, according to George Hecht, Vice President for Finance and Administration/Campus Operation.
When rain comes, the problem becomes the most acute. The UO campus operation staff have to cope with the damage from the rainy weather in a rush because the roofs on old structures always need work, rain water could get into the brick wall and leave permanent damage, Hecht said.
State funding is the main financial source for maintenance at UO, and the lack of maintenance is due to lack of state funding. According to data provided by University of Oregon Public Affairs, state general fund appropriation to universities has been cut by 22.5 percent between 2007 and 2014.
The university has started making plans to address these issues in the Competitive Excellence Plan this year. When Senator Kitzhaber proposed the $626 million budget for high education, Hecht said the fund will push the maintenance of old structures on schedule.
Straub Hall’s remodel will be underway by this March. The university is also looking to remodel Chapman, College and Career Building, and School of Architecture and Allied Arts, according to the Competitive Excellence Plan 2014.
The plan also includes to expand new learning space and offices and renovate residence halls.
Although Hecht said the extra funding will be optimistic for the maintenance, older structures require much more work and money to get done.
“Because many people like the way these older buildings look, we try our best to keep a historic mindset, and treat the buildings respectfully,” Hecht said. “We even find the right kind of paint or wood, so the buildings look the same. That’s why the remodeling can be time-consuming.”
A remodel can take anywhere from 18 months to two years, so planning and scheduling is a must.
In the last five years, 13 new projects have been completed at UO campus. Among those are the $68 million Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, the $200 million Matthew Knight Arena, the $32 million Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford Alumni Center, the $41.7 million John E. Jaqua Center and the $65 million Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building.
Most of these projects were funded by private donors and state F bonds.
Junior Anh Nguyen said she had different learning experiences in different buildings.
“There’s something so fancy like Lilis, then there are buildings like Friendly or Chapman, which are very old-looking and outdated,” Nguyen said. “The new ones are great–everything is very neat. But when I had class in Chapman Hall last term, something simple as a projector didn’t even work.”
Junior Tallia Reimel said she enjoyed the diversity of buildings on campus.
“It’s nice to have all the new buildings with the new technology, but the old buildings have more meaning to me,” Reimel said. “They connect us to the past.“
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