WKU transforms campus with construction

Photo Illustration by Aaron Drexler

Kayla Swanson

Students returning to WKU may feel like incoming freshmen as construction projects started over the summer have seemingly turned WKU’s campus into a different school.

Despite the changes, John Osborne, vice president for Campus Services and Facilities, said WKU did most of the construction during the summer to limit the disruption to students.

Renovations of Downing University Center progressed throughout the summer.

Students will not be able to see most of the construction in DUC, due to a barrier that blocks the side where Fresh Food Company was located.

“Most of it will be behind closed doors,”  said Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design, and Construction.

The DUC renovation project began on June 26 and is set to finish on July 15, 2014. Russell said the contractor, Whittenberg Construction, has completed steam and utility tunnels on the Avenue of Champions side of the building.

There was also demolition work during that time.

Russell said most of the interior has been demoed, but some demolition work is still taking place.

He said the demolition process for DUC is different than others in the past because a goal for the building is to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.

A LEED certified building promotes recycling and sustainable practices.

“The demolition contractor has to come in and they have to separate materials,” he said. “They’ll put the metal together, they’ll recycle the ceiling tiles, they’ll take out the stone, they’ll take out the steel, and all those things go into different bins that has to be measured and accounted for.”

Achieving LEED certification is a requirement for new construction projects at WKU. WKU is seeking a silver level LEED certification for DUC.

There is still access to DUC on the Avenue of Champions side of the building, through the Annex.

The DUC Food Court is open during the renovation, accessible only on the Minton side, but Fresh Food Company has moved to Topper Cafe on South Lawn.

According to Tim Colley, Dining Services director, Fresh Food will be in Topper Cafe for the next school year until it moves back to DUC. The DUC Food Court and Red Zone will replace Fresh Food in the Topper Cafe for the 2013-2014 school year.

“So far the reaction to Topper Cafe has been very positive,” Colley said. “It’s different from what you anticipate when you see it from the outside. That’s what everybody has said.”

Topper Cafe owner, Mike Murphy, of Scott, Murphy, and Daniel Construction Company, will remove the facility and South Lawn will again be green space.

In addition to the DUC renovation, construction of Subway and Provisions on Demand at Bates-Runner Hall and Panda Express at Garret Conference Center also happened during the summer.

Subway, which opened on August 19, and Provisions on Demand, or POD, will be combined. POD is scheduled to open the first week of classes.

Panda Express was delayed from opening at the start of the semester. It is now scheduled to open on September 23.

“There are always opportunities in construction projects for them to run late and this one has just run a little behind,” Colley said.