DUC makes adjustments to renovations

Michael McKay

Workers in the Downing University Center food court wore wet rags around their necks to keep cool.

Students flooded the patio area for lunch because the temperature outside felt better than inside the building.

Starting Monday, air conditioning was off in the building for more than 24 hours, causing the Academic Advising and Retention Center to close nine hours early on Tuesday. Water pipes were also shut off for part of Tuesday.

DUC is in the preliminary phase of a $49 million renovation, which began last month. It is expected to be complete by July 2014.

Trinity Gonzalez, DUC evening program coordinator, said the renovation isn’t convenient but is necessary.

“For some people, it’s really increased their workload,” Gonzalez said. “For example — people who work in the WKU Store: They’re moving to their new location, and they’re also moving to Garrett.

“The whole moving process, as anybody knows, is awful, and no one likes to move.”

Gonzalez said Building Service Attendants have to adjust too.

BSAs for the building have had to change the way they take out trash. They used to be able to take the elevator to the first floor, she said.

“Essentially, now there is no first floor,” she said.

Gonzalez said her staff is taking the renovation “in strides.”

“We’re doing the best we can — we’re trying to stay positive because we know it will pay off,” she said.

Indianapolis sophomore Aaron Snyder is a peer intrusive advisor for the AARC.

Snyder said he hasn’t noticed a drop in attendance of the students he advises. He said the renovation hasn’t bothered him very much, except for the problem with the air conditioning.

Snyder was working in the AARC during the time the air conditioning wasn’t working. Working in one of the back rooms of the AARC was especially hot, he said.

“Literally, we were working back there sweating,” Snyder said. “I got to work yesterday and saw signs were up saying the AC still wasn’t on. It wasn’t safe for people to be back there — it was that hot.”

David Oliver, director of the Environment, Health and Safety department, said his department is actively monitoring DUC to make sure conditions are safe.

“We’re monitoring air quality and all of the other things on a daily basis,” Oliver said. “It’s actually several times a day.”

Oliver said they were aware of the air conditioning problem but weren’t concerned for workers’ safety.

“It was a comfort issue with the temperature, not really a safety issue,” Oliver said.

Oliver said his department supported the decision for individual areas of DUC to shut down while the air conditioning was out.

He said EHS would be concerned about air conditioning if the outside temperature were hotter.

“It would have to be extremely hot for a long period of time,” he said. “Obviously it’s not the most comfortable situation to have, but those things do happen.”

It would not have approached a safety issue for some time, he said.

Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design, and Construction, said some inconveniences are normal for projects of this scale.

“We’re going to have bumps in the road,” Russell said.

Russell said some delays might happen because of all the components that are in the building.

“It’s not, ‘We’ll cut the blue wire,’” he said. “Some of them are blue, some of them are red, some of them are green.

“And inadvertently if one of them gets nicked during demolition — you know, basically, you can’t find it — you have to go pull through lines. So sometimes there are delays, and that happens.”