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Avery Point to be revamped
By Renu Sehgal
April 25, 1997
The Avery Point campus in Groton is bracing for a facelift. UConn 2000 and other projects are about to get going.
"The Avery Point campus is on the verge of fulfilling the elusive potential which so many on the campus, in the community and in the University have recognized and worked toward for many years," said David Madacsi, interim director of the campus. "These projects will move the campus from the realm of potential to reality."
Construction in three phases will include a new Marine Sciences & Technology Center, a new Project Oceanology facility, major infrastructure renovations and a new library, all part of UConn 2000. The total cost is $51.8 million.
All necessary permits are in from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corp of Engineers to begin Phase I, which will revamp Avery Point's infrastructure. Construction could begin as early as May. All wiring and utilities will go below ground and some roads will be reconstructed.
"Many of the utilities date back to World War II - that's 50 years ago," Madacsi said. "All concrete block buildings were erected in 1943 by the Coast Guard when they owned the estate, so most existing infrastructure was put in then. And when these buildings were constructed, they were supposed to be temporary - lasting for only 20 years."
Tom Duguay, assistant director of the campus, said Phase I will offer many benefits.
"It will provide fiber-optic cable between buildings as part of the University's goal to provide advanced networking capabilities throughout the University," he said.
The $4.1 million infrastructure and site work phase will be done by October 1998.
Branford House renovations
Branford House will be the main administration building and also a museum open to the public.
"Branford House will appropriately be the focal point of the campus, both visually and in terms of activity," Madacsi said. "Our plans call for maintaining the principal first-floor spaces for public events such as lectures, conferences, exhibitions, concerts and special events. The west wing of the second floor will be dedicated gallery space for the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art. Other second and third floor spaces will be utilized for campus administrative and student services offices."
An architectural study was conducted two years ago for internal renovations that would bring Branford House into code. So far, asbestos has been abated and repairs have been made to its roof, ceilings and windows. But other construction, including making it handicapped accessible, installing elevators and fixing the heat and electrical systems, have yet to be completed. The final stage of construction, which will take another year, is awaiting the release of bond money. The state Bond Commission is set to vote on the release today.
Under Phase II of the Avery Point campus renovation project, construction will include a $22.4 million Marine Sciences & Technology Center building, the Project Oceanology Building and a central utilities plant for heating and cooling. Construction could begin this summer and be completed by February 2000.
Phase III entails building a new $5.3 million library where the current administration building is located. The two-story building, construction of which could begin in 2000 and be completed by 2002, will have 44,400 square feet, a computer center and a learning resources center. The current library is one of the original Coast Guard buildings and accommodates only 200 students.
"It's inadequate in terms of size, especially for the new programs we're developing, such as the coastal studies and the expanded marine sciences programs," Madacsi said.
Connie Cook, the librarian, consulted on the design of the new building, which will accommodate at least 600 students.
"The library is a totally outdated facility," she said. "Technology is patched in. We have no staff space. We need a building that is technologically sound. We also need a space for collections. The new library will even have automated classrooms to teach classes. It will help us with all of the expanded programs that are about to descend on us."