Changing campus’ face

Map by Facilities, Graphic by Nick Graziano | The Oswegonian

The new Piez complex will not only provide a home to the sciences, but will increase usability for pedestrians, create an entirely new facade facing Washington Boulevard and kick off construction for the arts.

Right now, what seems to be a massive construction zone among Piez, Wilber and Snygg Halls is actually a number of projects, with over 150 workers from different contractors.

“There are three different large contractors, which is important to remember when we did the Campus Center there were almost seven of them,” Associate Vice President for Facilities Tom Simmonds said. “We’re pretty proud of how it’s interconnected and a lot of different people working on a lot of stuff.”

The science complex center is being constructed much like the Campus Center was. An original structure is revitalized, in this case Piez Hall, which is being done by Fahs Construction Group. Fahs will also be demolishing Snygg in the fall of 2013, and that site will turn into a parking lot.

Piez is being left exposed to the north while another contractor is building a shell around the south side, providing a more modern look toward Washington Boulevard.

The shell is being constructed by The Pike Company and will include a lecture hall, planetarium and academic commons. One of the major milestones that was hit in December was getting all of the main structure concrete poured, said Allen Bradberry, the project coordinator with the facilities department.

“We haven’t had snow removal issues,” Bradberry said. “We haven’t had the drastically cold weather to contend with, it’s allowed workers to get on site and do their job rather than fight with the snow. The slips, trips and falls have been minimal, which is good.”

The wide walkway in the shell of the Campus Center will be continued into the science complex, allowing for a cohesive pedestrian route. A plaza will emerge between the two complexes.

“This plaza is very significant,” Simmonds said. “What appears as a road now…really becomes a much bigger pedestrian plaza. It’s all raised and has a lot of different elements out there and it will feel very different if you put a vehicle on there.”

The plaza will be used to connect the spine of the Campus Center to the science center, which will eventually be connected to Wilber Hall and later to Park Hall.

“We were trying to create this interconnected interior link or passageway that starts in the Campus Center,” Simmonds said.

The third constructor is PAC and Associates, which is adding an addition to Wilber Hall, as part of the relocation of the School of Education. The other part of the relocation will be construction on Park Hall, which had been shut down in the fall.

Eventually Wilber and Park will become connected through a common student area, where the sky walkways are currently. The walkways are planned to overlook a meeting area for education students, much like the Chiu Atrium in the Campus Center, although with its own distinctive vibe.

As soon as the science center is complete, the science departments currently located in Snygg will relocate, which will allow Snygg to be taken down in the fall of 2013. All of the site work surrounding the area will be completed by 2014.

The area where Snygg is will soon create space for a new commuter and visitor parking lot which will help highlight both Sheldon Hall and the Campus Center, making campus more inviting.

“It lets us properly front this whole new piece we are doing, with the angle of what’s happening with the Campus Center, the science center and the education, it kinda gives us more of a traditional campus planning,” Simmonds said.

But making that into a commuter and visitor parking lot will benefit the large exterior pathway, which will run from the Hewitt Quad to Mackin Hall.

“You’ll have this clearer pedestrian zone, we’re working really hard not to have vehicular traffic cross that pedestrian zone,” Simmonds said.

The goal is to keep a lot of the come-and-go cars on the south side of campus, so that way there are less cars interfering with foot traffic.

This includes converting the road behind Sheldon Hall into a solely pedestrian walkway, which will create a straight pathway from the Hewitt Quad to Moreland with minimal vehicle interference.

A path running parallel to the pedestrian walkway has been incorporated into the design to leave room for an alternative mode of transportation for students.

“I don’t know exactly what it is yet, but what we’re trying to say our campus is very linear,” Simmonds said. “Right now, the option for them is to walk or get on the Centro and go all away around the ring-road…and that’s not what people want to do.”

Simmonds is looking for something similar to the people-movers that Brazil and Europe has which is sustainable, powered by alternative forms of energy. But the exact form this people-move will take shape in, is not yet known.

The plan is to have the science and education centers begin hosting classes in the fall of 2013, and all the site work surrounding the area to be completed in 2014. So far, everything is on track, especially with the current light winter we’ve had so far.

“We haven’t had snow removal issues,” Bradberry said. “We haven’t had the drastically cold weather to contend with, it’s allowed workers to get on site and do their job rather than fight with the snow. The slips, trips and falls have been minimal, which is good.”

There is a lot of work still ahead, including getting a lot of the site work done and moving all the offices and equipment from Snygg to the new complex.

“We’re packing 10 pounds into a five pound bag,” Bradberry said.