Helm Library to receive new air-handling units and exterior restoration

Photo by John Reecer/WKU Herald.

John Reecer

Helm Library at Western Kentucky University will be receiving two new air-handling units along with restorations to the building’s exterior at a total cost of about $800,000.  

Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell said that the projects are completely separate and they will each use money from a different fund.

The air-handling unit project will use $500,000 from critical needs funding and the restorations to the exterior will be around $300,000, which will be paid for by the facilities department. 

Russell said that the old air-handling units exceeded their useful life and “had rusted to a point that they could no longer function.”

“When Helm was constructed, it was the original basketball gym” for the school, Russell said. “Back in 1963, we completed the construction of Diddle Arena and the basketball team was moved. When they repurposed the building to from a gym to a library, they put a second floor there in the library.”

“When they did that, they put two very large what we call air-handling units in that facility,” Russell said. “We had to cut holes on the ends of the building so that we could get a very large crane to take the old units out of the building.”

Currently, the section of the building that is under construction has no air conditioning. However, Russell said that construction crews are well on the way to replacing the air-handling units and that construction will end in August before the semester starts.

The library will also see restorations made to its exterior to help improve several aspects of the building.

“That’s an exterior restoration company that’s doing that work,” Russell said. “We are doing some exterior restoration to the building to help the water infiltration and etc. They are cleaning it and also taking care of some of what I call tuck pointing and some restoration work that just needs to happen on that building.”

Helm Library has seen its fair share construction within the last few years as the building has received a new roof and new windows.

“We are trying to keep water from going into these old buildings,” Russell said. “Normally you would see us start with the roof. We will start with the exterior envelope; sometimes that includes the replacement of the windows.”

Russell also said that the windows on Gordon Wilson Hall will also be replaced this summer, but they have not yet been ordered.