Construction Disruption: A breakdown of the bigger construction projects on campus
Walking down the quad off 13th avenue, you’re going to hit construction. The first sign is the noise — the drilling, hammering and beeping of excavating vehicles. The next sign is two fences, one metal and one neon orange plastic, guarding the construction zone. The third is the giant hole in the ground where the Johnson Hall parking lot used to be.
Construction workers tore into the former parking lot between Johnson Hall and Chapman Hall over winter break. They’re digging a hole that will make up the basement of the Tykeson Hall College and Career Building.
It’s one of several projects under construction, or preparing to go under construction soon on the University of Oregon campus. Several of these are major projects, costing $5 million or more, according to Associate Vice President of Campus and Facilities Management Mike Harwood. These include Tykeson Hall, Oregon Hall, Bean Hall, Knight Campus and several other projects, some smaller than others — and it’s more construction than the campus planning department has seen in several years.
But all this construction is causing some disruptions. Staff and students alike have voiced complaints about things like drilling and hammer noises during class, and even privacy issues in dorms due to construction near bathing areas.
UO spokesperson Tobin Klinger said the construction sounds “like a washing machine.”
While it may seem like an uptick in construction projects, there may be slightly fewer projects this 2017-18 academic year. But the projects that are happening are larger and have a higher dollar value than the usual yearly projects, said Harwood.
“[The projects] are bigger and more impactful… as opposed to some other projects that weren’t quite so disruptive,” he said.
Harwood compared this year’s disruptions to the EMU renovation disruptions in 2015, when students were displaced from much of the building during construction.
Another reason for the increased construction is that projects were put on hold and the maintenance deferred, according to UO Project Manager Tim Allenbaugh.
Students living in Bean Hall expressed frustration with the construction at a town hall meeting last November.
“I am certain that students will complain given the noise and disruption, and also that staff and faculty within offices in [Chapman] will be disturbed,” said professor Kristin Yarris in an email to the Emerald. Yarris is a professor attempting to teach in Chapman, one of the halls directly next to the Tykeson construction site.
Yarris added that she is looking to get her classroom rescheduled, but that is not easy after the term has already started.
Martina Oxoby, the assigned managing staff for Tykeson Hall, said that they are trying their best to address concerns and complaints.
“We recognize that there is a lot of projects going on on campus and it is disruptive to the normal workflow,” Oxoby said. “One thing that we’ve been doing on the Tykeson Hall project is putting together a weekly update for construction activity to come.”
This update is sent to building and department managers who are “encouraged” to pass on the information, said Oxoby. Updates include noise expectancy and general information about what’s going on.
“Everyone is encouraged if they do have any noise or odor complaints to contact Environmental Health and Safety,” Oxoby said.
This is the most construction that has taken place on UO’s campus in the last several years.
“I’ve only been here four years and this is by far the busiest that I’ve ever been,” Allenbaugh said of the time he’s been at UO. “And talking with colleagues in my department, I don’t know if it’s an all-time high but I think it’s at a peak, probably in the last decade.”
So what exactly is happening with campus construction?
Tykeson Hall College and Careers Building
Tykeson Hall is intended as a way to help students figure out their future, according to Harwood.
“There’s a lot of stories [about a student who] comes in, goes through a university, and comes out on the other end and they’re like, ‘I’m not really prepared. I somehow got stuck on a track and nobody ever told me that I was better at doing something else,’” Harwood said.
The career advising opportunities Tykeson will provide are meant to help prevent those situations from happening. Tykeson Hall, proposed by the College of Arts and Sciences, will offer an additional advising space for students.
It’s the first from-the-ground-up project to be built on the side of campus directly west of the EMU since the Prince Lucien Campbell building was constructed in the 60’s.
The building’s construction costs about $30 million, with the total rising to around $42 million, according to Oxoby.
The Tykeson family donated $10 million of that amount in 2014. Fundraising by the College of Arts and Sciences and bonds make up the rest of the funding.
Most of the excavation took place over winter break, with the fences going up during finals week. The hole itself is intended for the basement of the building.
It is expected that heavy excavation will wrap up at the end of this week, said Oxoby.
Tykeson Hall will open its doors in fall of 2019, according to Oxoby.
Bean Hall Renovation
Beginning last summer, Bean West undertook renovations that will last until late fall of 2018. After that construction has finished, renovation will begin on Bean East. Bean East, then, will be closed for a year.
School leaders expect that Bean construction will finish altogether in August of 2019.
The renovation is intended to make Bean more accessible. It will include a new stair tower with an elevator.
To fund Bean, Oregon legislature provided $44 million in revenue bonds and an additional $4 million in auxiliary bonds.
Bean, in particular, has caused many complaints from students.
Residents of Bean East complained about noise during quiet hours, blocked off restrooms and construction workers coming and going unannounced.
The university has done a few things to try to accomodate students’ concerns. As a reparation for students having to live in a construction environment, $550 was deducted from room and board costs for students living in Bean East. David Opp-Beckman, the facilities capital project manager for University Housing, apologized to residents for a lack of communication about the construction.
After Bean, it is expected that residence halls Hamilton and Walton will see renovations, said Harwood.
“The decision to renovate Bean was really driven by housing realizing that in order to recruit students for the 21st century, we need to have 21st-century housing,” Harwood said. “Their future plans for Hamilton and Walton are really to completely redo those.”
In October 2017, the university revealed the design plans for the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific
Impact, set to open in 2020.
A year earlier, Phil and Penny Knight donated $500 million to help fund the new campus. An additional $50 million was donated by the Oregon state legislature. It was the largest donation to a public university ever.
As a part of the Knight Campus, UO purchased a 1.7 acre parking lot, located across the river from the main Knight Campus, for $3.2 million in November. This space will house a 150,000 square foot research building.
The plan also includes a glass skybridge over the six-lane Franklin Boulevard to connect the campus.
Although Knight Campus has not yet begun construction, it has already created issues within the UO community.
The university moved people out of the Millrace buildings, and a couple restaurants have been displaced because of the plan, including Lucky Duck Espresso, Domino’s Pizza and recently remodeled Evergreen Indian Restaurant.
Usha Shaik, the owner of the Evergreen Indian Restaurant, was worried about how her business would be affected by the relocation. “We’ve been looking so hard to find a location, but still we haven’t come to a point because a lot of places don’t have parking,” she told the Emerald in April 2017. In June 2017, the Evergreen Indian Restaurant bought the Jade Palace restaurant property.
Oregon Hall Renovation
Oregon Hall, the building where the registrar and financial aid offices are located, has been under construction since late summer of 2017. Fencing was installed in August, and window replacement began in September.
The building is being renovated in two phases: the west wing, which is three stories, and the east wing, which is four. Harwood says that the project is on budget and on schedule.
“It was really difficult to figure out how to [renovate Oregon Hall] in a sequence that kept all of the units functioning,” Harwood said.
The first phase, the construction on the west wing, is almost done. The whole renovation is expected to be finished September 2018.
The project is funded mainly by central funding, or UO-held bonds. $9.5 million was contributed by central funding. Auxiliary funding contributed $175,000, and around $1.5 million was through capital improvement.