With cranes looming overhead, workers in hard hats hammering away and parking lots being re-paved – it’s easy to tell it’s summer construction season.
New addition Construction on Huff Hall began this spring with a major addition to the facility, which will house the new Center on Health, Aging and Disability in the College of Applied Health Sciences. The addition is scheduled for completion in winter 2010-11. | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
The campus has budgeted nearly $204 million on construction projects. There are more projects this year than usual, mainly because many projects finally began in 2010, years after their plans were approved.
This year, 43 projects were under way by the end of spring semester. Many will be completed by the end of summer. The projects include work on more than 30 campus buildings.
Given the state’s financial climate, passers-by gazing up at the cranes and scaffolding might wonder where all the money for these projects is coming from.
Although the amount of work on campus and the money being spent seem like a lot, funding for much of the construction this summer comes from the Deferred Maintenance Program, which was created to bolster the campus’s building maintenance effort.
Deferred Maintenance projects are those building projects that have been put off because funding hasn’t been available for their completion.
“Many of these projects were set up two years ago,” said Doris Reeser, capital maintenance planning coordinator in Facilities and Services.
By the time the projects have been planned, designed, bidding completed and funds earmarked, months, and in some cases years have gone by, she said.
“Some of the money being expended now was set aside three years ago, and perhaps in a case or two, even four. Although those (funds) were set aside in large chunks, projects have to be vetted with the chancellor’s Capital Review Committee; when those projects are accepted, they have to go through the architectural/engineering process,” said Carl Wegel, director of maintenance at F&S. “All of that can take an extremely long time.”
Out with the old Lincoln Hall renovation is under way. It has been 70 years since the last major work was done on Lincoln Hall. Included in the project is the removal of asbestos.
| Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Now, much of the planning and vetting has been streamlined, he said.
“The board approval levels have been raised, so (some of this year’s projects) began when the approval process was much slower. So they’re just now getting to the point where they’re really hitting execution,” Wegel said.
The UI began the Deferred Maintenance program to supply additional money for the much-needed renovations across campus.
The campus allocates about $20 million per year to regular building maintenance projects, Wegel said.
That money is used for what Wegel calls “day-to-day” projects such as painting, plumbing and lighting repairs.
“(The Deferred Maintenance program) is the delta between what I’ve been funded to do and the needs of the campus – whether it’s big or small, it’s by definition, deferred maintenance,” Wegel said.
Using industry standards, the Urbana campus fell short of what it needed to allocate for building maintenance.
Generally, Wegel said, the cost of routine operating expenses ranges between 1.5 and 3 percent of replacement value, or how much it would cost to completely replace a facility.
Recognizing the growing budget shortfall for building maintenance, campus officials instituted the Deferred Maintenance program.
The program has been funded by three sources: an Academic Facility Maintenance Fee Assessment (AFMFA); Certificates of Participation (COPs), which are like municipal bonds; and funding from university reserves (UA).
Initially, the university took out two COP loans totaling $100 million for all three campuses. The Urbana campus share of that funding is $60,500. UA Reserve funding amounted to two payments of about $5.5 million each.
Some of the COPs and UA money is still being spent this year, but the program for the foreseeable future will only be funded through the AFMFA.
“We’re hoping that at some point there will be some UA reserves available,” Reeser said. “With the financial situation, I don’t know when to expect that.”
She said many projects would be much less expensive if maintenance is done as it’s needed, such as with roof replacements. If roofs and other building components were replaced when needed, it could save the cost of water-
damage repairs later, she said.
The AFMFA began in fall 2006 for first-year students at $250 per semester. The fee increases at the rate of inflation. Students pay the fee each semester.
The student fee brings in $18 million to $20 million a year.
A committee that includes students chooses which projects are funded through the AFMFA each year. Some of this year’s Deferred Maintenance projects had been approved by the committee two or three years ago.
Reeser said about 40 projects this year are Deferred Maintenance projects. Many of them are life/safety projects – meaning they enhance the safety of the building occupants – and can include electrical work and sprinkler systems. Other projects deal with other aspects of the building such as ventilation, roof replacements and other building envelope issues, and projects to reduce energy use.
Reeser said several campus buildings are finally getting some major repairs this summer. They include David Kinley Hall, which is getting a new electrical and mechanical system, roof repairs and tuck-pointing. Air conditioning will be added to classrooms and restrooms will be renovated. Some construction on the upper floors of David Kinley Hall will continue into the fall, but projects on the lower floors should be completed this summer.
The chimneys of the English Building will be rebuilt this summer. Work to the English building also will include renovations to entrances, a new sprinkler system and new restrooms.
Other buildings undergoing major repairs include Gregory Hall, the Chemistry Annex, Roger Adams Laboratory and Bevier Hall.
In addition to Deferred Maintenance, other building projects under way on campus this summer include work at several residence halls and additions at the Newmark Civil Engineering Building and at Huff Hall.
At the civil engineering building, work is under way on the M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Student Center addition, which is scheduled to be completed March 2011. The addition to Huff Hall will house the new Center on Health, Aging and Disability in the College of Applied Health Sciences, which will be completed winter 2010-11.
The colleges, including some private donations, are financing both additions.
Concrete that was not reinforced properly more than a century ago has forced some professors, administrators, staff members and graduate students to move out of the Natural History Building, which is used for research and teaching.
The original portion of the building – the oldest academic building on the UI campus – was built in 1892 and designed by architect Nathan Ricker. The problem is in the addition built in 1908, according to Robin Kaler, associate chancellor for public affairs.
Kaler said that after termite damage was discovered in the older part of the building, a full inspection of the entire building was ordered. The inspection showed sagging floors in the 1908 addition.
According to Stephen Marshak, a geology professor and director of the School of Earth, Society and Environment in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, when the addition was built in 1908, drawings called for rebar – metal put in concrete to reinforce it – every 6 inches. Instead, rebar was used every 24 inches. That lack of reinforcement has led to sagging and robbed the floors of their strength, Marshak said.
The building was scheduled to receive a new roof and windows this summer. Work will begin as soon as possible to reinforce corridors in the building, and then to reinforce floors.
Units housed in the building include: LAS; School of Earth, Society and Environment; the geology department and Geology Library; atmospheric sciences; integrative biology; and the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.