The renovated classroom building Pray-Harrold was originally scheduled to be completed by 2012, but it is expected to be ready for use this coming fall semester.
The renovations have cost $42 million, with $31.5 million provided by the state of Michigan and the university paying for the rest.
With professors and classes relocated across campus for the semester, workers have been able to renovate the building all at once rather than in stages. The work relocated approximately 300 faculty and 50 staff members’ office space to other buildings on campus.
In a private tour this past Friday, university staff members were given a chance to view the progress being made on the construction. Staff members were briefed on the progress by manager of planning and design, Sean Braden.
About 30 faculty members, many who were eager to see the progress on their new offices, came.
After being given safety goggles and hard hats, the staff received a tour of the sixth and seventh floor, where offices are currently being redone, as well as the second [main] floor, where an improved student lounge will be located.
When completed, professors’ offices will have new flooring, ceiling, paint, lighting, doors, windows and radiators. “They’re smaller units and higher efficiency,” maintenance and process engineer Mike Pitts said.
Many other changes are taking place as well, particularly on the second floor with the improved student commons and auditoriums.
“We’ve completely rearrange how the auditoriums look and how they function,” Braden said.
When completed, the auditoriums will be smaller than before.
A card swiper will help professors who teach in the auditoriums to keep track of attendance. Students will swipe their student I.D., which will be downloaded and recorded.
Auditoriums will also be handicap accessible from inside rather than making people use exterior ramps to reach the auditorium.
“The main floor will reconfigure all four auditoriums for ADA compliance,” Braden said. “The Dean’s Office will be relocated to this floor as well for better student access.”
Other new features include the main floor commons being glass encased and information kiosks being installed for students to place announcements, reducing the need for numerous bulletin boards.
“The heating and cooling system is being entirely replaced,” Braden said. “New building chiller, air handling units, and all new Fin-Tube will be installed in the building.”
The building will also include a bigger electric generator to accommodate the increasing use of technology in recent years for computers, printers, projectors and other technical equipment.“When this building was built, computers weren’t really even much of a thought,” Braden said.
Workers are hoping they will soon be able to begin making plans for furniture, though Braden said those arrangements are still in process.
“We got started on the drawings,” he said. “We’ve had so many discussions about furniture that we actually had to jockey around where we thought some of the furniture would be because of all the discussions we’ve had. Because we don’t have a final layout of everything, we’re doing our best to take a best guess.”
John Begley, one of the construction workers involved in the renovations, said painting will begin soon.
“We’re actually taping the sand and getting ready to start painting,” Begley said.
In addition, progress to the ceiling will begin shortly.
“We have a new sprinkler system here and you can see we’re starting to get ready with the hanger already up in place, so the ceiling grid is going to start in about two weeks,” Begley said.
Also among the renovations will be a new Dean’s suite, new pipes in the ceilings, upgraded audio-visual features in classrooms and better wireless capability.
Many Students are eager to move back into the new building.
“I’m pretty excited to see how it’s going to be when it’s gone”, say education major Steven Kurowicki. “It was definitely a little run down.”
Despite the cost, Kurowicki says the decision to renovate Pray-Harrold was nessary.
“I definitely think it was important”.
Although the completion date is much sooner than previously expected, walking long distancesw across campus remains an obstacle for students.
“It’s still annoying that you have to walk around”, says Kurowicki.
Also among the renovations will be a new Deans suite, new pipes in the ceilings, upgraded audio-visual features in classrooms and better wireless capability.