New science building set to begin construction later this month

Emma Collins

Construction on the old North Wing of the Thompson Complex is expected to begin in late February.

Construction was originally set to begin in December  2015. However, none of the initial bids received in December covered the budget for the building.

“We’ve had to do what’s called value engineering to try to get the project’s scope within our budget,” said Dan Chaney, Capitol Construction project manager.

Value engineering involves looking at and possibly altering both the materials being used as well as the methods of construction and also removing any expendable features in an attempt to reduce the budget.

“We’re really just looking at the entire project and see what of those items might lend themselves to getting us where we need to be,” Chaney said.

The result is a smaller budget that will hopefully be within range of a new set of revised bids.

According to an email from Bryan Russell, chief facilities officer, these bids are expected to be received on Feb. 9.

If one of the revised bids covers the cost of the project, then construction on what will be named Ogden College Hall will begin later this month.

The predicted completion date is December 2017.

“But that schedule is pending on us obviously getting within budget,” Chaney said.

If none of the revised bids cover the new budget, then the construction plans will be reexamined, and more changes may be made in an effort to further reduce the cost.

“We are trying to avoid a rebid scenario because that would cost us more time, a lot more time,” Chaney said.

Current design plans, which were drawn up with input from Dean Cheryl Stevens of Ogden College, show a four-story, 80,000-square-foot building that will include the dean’s office, several labs, an auditorium and a connection to Snell Hall.

The lot’s close proximity to Snell poses a problem: construction noise. Chaney admits that the noise from the loud machinery might distract students who have classes in the surrounding buildings.

“There is no way to have a completely silent construction site, so the construction crew will observe quiet hours for testing in an effort to limit the distraction,” Chaney said.

Another concern during construction is safety for pedestrians. The sidewalk across from Chestnut Street North lot is adjacent to the old North Wing lot.

“We’ll take precautions to have it protected during the job,” Chaney said.

This type of construction on a school campus comes with a unique set of challenges.

According to Chaney, one of the main challenges is the lack of nearby storage space for machinery and materials.

“That’s typical on campus because things are in such close proximity,” Chaney said.

The North Wing of the Thompson Complex has been demolished since this past winter.

“The building in general was past its usefulness, and the mechanical systems were certainly well past their life. When the building gets to that shape, it’s more feasible to take it down and start from scratch with a new one,” Chaney said.