The demolition of Chambers Hall has been postponed until after winter break, at the least, prolonging the original discussions to tear the building down over summer.
Instead, Kevin Roberts, vice president of planning and operations, said long-term options for placing the Language and Literature and Psychology departments were evaluated, leading to a more complicated process.
“It was just like the old domino effect – we hit one and all these things started happening and moving everyone out,” he said.
Language and Literature will move to the Hardin-Administration Building, and Psychology will move into McKenzie Hall, to be in the same building as the counseling clinic.
However, moving Language and Literature to the Administration Building will displace the Graduate School offices, and placing Psychology in McKenzie will displace Student Life offices.
Roberts said the university decided to move the Graduate School into the third floor of the library over summer.
The offices are behind the AT&T center in the library, only eliminating a few study rooms which Roberts said are rarely used.
Books from the third floor will be relocated to the first floor where compact shelves will be installed. A study room on the first floor will also be filled with books, but Roberts said the room was never used and will most likely not be missed.
The Graduate School offices are complete, but visual aspects of the offices are still being improved and are expected to be complete in a few weeks.
Student Life offices will be moved into the basement of the Campus Center in place of the bowling alley, which has sat unused for the past few years.
Roberts said construction is expected to be done around September.
Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life, said the main focus of construction was on the dorms over summer, but is now being turned to the Campus Center and Bennett.
“Right now we’re in a state of flux because everybody is in a holding pattern waiting for that to get done,” he said. “Realistically, I would say maybe a November move-in time frame.”
A new elevator will be put in, replacing the stairwell to the basement by the Campus Store.
Students’ Association will also receive new offices.
The WFF Custodial Services office behind Chambers Hall will also be demolished, moving the house-cleaning staff to the Nichols Home across the street from Edwards Hall on Campus Court, which previously housed the technical support team.
The technical support team moved to the second floor of Zellner Hall, where University Marketing used to reside.
Marketing then moved into the Vanderpool Building, which was renovated to install a more open-space work place with sliding glass doors and glass walls.
“It really puts everyone together in a much more collaborative environment,” Roberts said.
The Vanderpool renovation started mid-May and is completed.
In addition to the relocation renovations, the Witt House, across the street from Nelson Hall on E.N. 16th Street, was gutted and refurbished to serve as collaborative grounds for contractors. Roberts said the decision to renovate the house was made in an effort to conserve money that would’ve been spent on trailers for the construction workers to office out of.
“We ran the numbers on it and found out it would actually be less money to fully renovate the house than to lease those trailers for three to four years,” he said.
Costs of relocation and renovations are estimated to be around $1.1 million, Roberts said.
Construction also began on the track and soccer fields, and discussions about the future football stadium started over summer.
“The track and soccer pitch is obviously well underway,” Roberts said. “That’s not nearly as complex as the football stadium is going to be. There’s not nearly as much design elements that’ll have to go into that.”
Roberts said the stadium will be completed early spring to prepare for track and field’s Wes Kittley Invitational on April 15.
Once the fields are set up, construction will move to the demolition of Elmer Gray Stadium.
“When we’ll start, well, it’s our intent and hope to start demolition of Elmer Gray sometime in January,” Roberts said.
The demolition will displace offices in the stadium, which will move into the athletics offices.
At the same time, weekly meetings are in session to discuss the future of the Wildcat Stadium at Anthony Field, to determine the preferred atmosphere and where offices will be in the structure.
“I’ve got a shot here at creating game day traditions that are going to carry us for decades,” he said. “We really want to think deeply about that engagement for students, alumni, people in Abilene and families. What’s game day going to look like?”
Roberts said his team will reach out to groups of students over the next year for their opinion of what game day should look like, and incorporate the results into the final project.
Completion of the stadium relies on its start date, which is dependent on reliable funds.
“We are not going to engage in any construction until we have the funds secured to do it, as fundraising continues and funds are coming in, we’re using those as the drivers for the decisions as when the groundbreaking takes place,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the duration of the construction process is estimated at 16 to 18 months from groundbreaking.
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