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  August 27, 2001

Busy Summer Bears Fruit,
As Construction Completed

There has never been, nor is there likely to ever be, a summer like the one currently winding to a conclusion in Storrs.

Five new academic buildings. A new student services center. Thirteen new apartment buildings and a community center. A new residence hall. A massive parking garage. Sidewalks, curbing, fire lines, campus maps and signage. Combined, more than $170 million of UConn 2000 projects have been completed since May, the most extensive period of reconstruction in the University's history.

"We were busy in 1998-99, with the chemistry building, South Campus, and the move to a downtown campus in Stamford," says Larry Schilling, University architect, "but for sheer cost and volume, this is the busiest we've ever been."

The new and refurbished facilities will change the way UConn students learn, live, and conduct business with the University. The construction also enhances student safety - new water mains will allow installation of sprinkler systems in all residence halls, and new sidewalks from Hilltop apartments and the athletic fields to campus will improve traffic safety. The new facilities also address several academic priorities, through construction of a fuel cell research center at the Depot Campus and a new marine sciences building at Avery Point.

More projects - the University's first on-campus hotel; an addition to the Centennial Alumni House that will house offices and a UConn sports museum; and a new home for the UConn Co-op - will open during the next four months. And work has been restarted on the Biological Sciences Building, placed on hold more than a year ago when the University terminated its contract with HRH/Atlas Construction Co. for delays and shoddy work. The project is slated for completion by December 2002.

The projects ready for the start of this semester are:

  • The first phase of the Wilbur Cross Building renovation, which offers students the opportunity to conduct virtually all their business in one location. The registrar, residential life, financial aid, the bursar's office, deferments, services for disabled students, enrollment management, the Dean of Students, HUSKYVision, and cameras for student IDs are all easily accessible, in impressive new surroundings;
  • The new School of Business building, which will host some classes this week and is expected to be fully operational by the end of the month, is fitted with high-tech equipment, data jacks and a distance learning lab;
  • The Hilltop Apartments, a 14-building complex between Stadium and Separatist roads, offers housing for nearly 1,000 students in two- and four-bedroom apartments, as well as some studios. Across the street, the new Hilltop suites are housing 450 undergraduate s in suites with two large bedrooms and a bathroom;
  • The former Waring Chemistry Building reopened several weeks ago after being completely renovated, and now is home to the main offices of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the departments of English, geography, and statistics. The facility includes computer labs located on several floors, new faculty offices, and classrooms;
  • A fuel cell research center was constructed at the Depot Campus. The 16,000-square-foot building will serve as an incubator, where engineering faculty and researchers from private industry can collaborate on fuel cell research - one of the University's scholarly priorities;
  • Another research priority, marine sciences, will take a major step forward with the opening of a new building that will host classes for the first time this month. The building, on the Avery Point Campus, gives researchers well equipped laboratory space, meeting rooms, offices and classrooms;
  • Another new structure constructed on the plaza deck of the Edward V. Gant Complex will house offices and meeting rooms for faculty in the Institute of Materials Science;
  • A new arena constructed off Horsebarn Hill Road will house College of Agriculture and Natural Resources events and the champion UConn polo teams;
  • Fire lines were constructed throughout campus and across Route 195, that will allow crews to complete the installation of sprinkler systems in all campus residence halls. During the summer, sprinklers were added to the McMahon and Hilltop residence halls;
  • A 1,500-space parking garage opened this weekend, adjacent to the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Entrance to the garage is on Stadium Road, across from Memorial Stadium. Once the new UConn Co-op is completed - during the semester break - customers will also be able to enter the Co-op directly from the garage;
  • More than a dozen campus maps, mounted on New England-style stone walls, have been erected in much-frequented locations across campus. New building signs, featuring the University's logo and each structure's official name, also have been installed.

Schilling says the large number of projects now coming to fruition is linked to the University's authority to manage its own projects, which has made it possible to complete the buildings remarkably quickly. The Hilltop apartment complex, a massive undertaking that involved clearing the land and constructing 14 buildings, was completed in just over one year.

Richard Veilleux

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