Campus infrastructure project to begin in May

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Brace yourselves. The interior of campus will become quite the noisy construction zone as soon as commencement is over next month, according to Brian Swope, assistant director of the Office of Design and Construction. Some parking lots will be temporarily closed and pedestrian routes diverted.

But when the project to update and revitalize the utility infrastructure is complete, the rewards will be great in terms of lower energy consumption, upgraded and air-conditioned classrooms, and preparation for planned building renovations. The project is essential to the University’s sustainability goals and will allow it to move closer to achieving carbon neutrality.  

A major goal of the infrastructure project is to install a new, 1,700-ton chiller tower on top of the existing Centrex Building that will provide chilled water to cool most of the buildings in the surrounding area, including Hanna, Moseley, South, McFall, Williams and Founders halls, then on to Shatzel Hall. The first phase of the project begins in early May and is to be completed by Aug. 7. It will allow the renovation of South Hall, the new home for the School of Media and Communication, to progress.

In order to meet the Aug. 7 completion deadline for the first phase of the project, crews will work from dawn to dusk seven days a week, campus-wide representatives heard at a March 24 meeting. However, recognizing that important events are taking place on campus all summer, the project team stated its willingness to suspend operations when necessary, and will be in close communication with the campus community. Robert Boucher, design and construction, is the project manager.

The lead company on the project, IPS, will have a 30-foot construction trailer office on the west side of Centrex. IPS has promised to give sufficient notice whenever a building entrance must be temporarily closed or other additional disruption must occur. The campus community will also receive regular construction updates as the work progresses.

The new chiller will replace the individual units on buildings, providing much greater energy efficiency, just as the chiller plant on the east side of campus accomplished for the Health and Human Services Building, the Fine Arts Center and others. The east wall of Centrex will receive a major facelift along with a temporary new entrance to allow equipment to be installed.

Other aspects of the infrastructure upgrade include new electrical and gas services, heating supply lines, and separated storm and sanitary sewer water lines.

All this requires major tunneling, drilling and trenching. The area around McFall Center and South Hall in particular is bedrock, which will have to be excavated and ground up, so a fair amount of noise can be expected, Boucher said, asking for the campus community’s patience.

Also on that side of campus, East Wooster Street may need to go down to one lane at times to leave a buffer for the heavy equipment that will be used. At no time will Wooster be closed. The project team is already coordinating with city police and traffic officials as well as with BGSU Parking Services.

The construction will also mean the closure of several parking lots on campus, notably the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Main Lot, which will be used as a staging area for equipment and for gas line work, and Lot A, near the new Greek Village development, to provide a construction entrance off Wooster. Both will be closed for the summer, said Swope.

A truck entrance by Kohl Hall will be maintained to allow for deliveries.

As the five-foot trench snakes its way around the central quadrangle, walking paths will have to be rerouted at times, including the breezeway between University and Moseley halls. By mid-July, the waterline will begin to head across the quad toward Williams Hall.

Although all the pipe will be laid and brought into the buildings this summer, the current systems will not be terminated until winter break 2015-16, when cranes will be brought in to remove the old equipment. Centrex will remain fenced off through the winter.