Construction creates space for students

Students this semester are establishing new routines, dodging construction sites as they go.

Nabholz Construction Services began construction of Simmons Great Hall, and John Brown University is preparing the North Slope Apartments site.

Faculty hope the new facilities will be worth construction’s inconvenience, providing better facilities and more space to manage anticipated growth.

Simmons Great Hall will have both nmore seating and a lobby designed to serve as a front door to campus, said Steve Beers, vice president of student development. When people visit, the new expansion will provide a more obvious entry to campus.

The lobby will extend past the glass doors that now face the construction, and continue to the west edge of the existing Kresge Dining Hall, said Aramark Director Stephen Kerr.

According to Beers, the University plans for Simmons Great Hall to generate some additional revenue, though not enough to make a large difference for student expenses.

Beers said donors provided $5.5 million for construction of the expansion. That includes potential renovations, as the University plans to convert the Administrative Dining Room above the cafeteria into office space. Donors also gave a $1.25 million endowment to offset operating expenses.

Steve Brankle, facilities services and sustainability director, said the University plans for Simmons Great Hall to be completed by the end of June 2013.

Sophomore Adam Lundy expected the expansion to be good for the campus. He said having a separate hall for prospective students and visitors might give the school a more professional appearance.

Brankle said construction on the North Slope Apartments will begin after all the subcontractors have been notified and receive their contracts.

Donors also gave $2.75 million for the North Slope Apartments’ construction and the apartments should be finished by the fall semester of 2013, said Beers.

André Broquard, director of residence life, expects high demand for the new apartments. The apartments will allow seniors to stay on campus while living in a more independent environment.

Seniors play an important role in communicating what the University is about to incoming students, Broquard said. When seniors live off-campus, they cannot do that as well.
While waiting for the new buildings’ added benefits, however, students have to deal with the noise and dirt.

Senior Becca Masters lives right next to the construction site. This is Masters’ second year in her townhouse, and she was not happy to return to construction out her back door.

Masters said she missed the grassy hill where the construction site now sits.

“It made living in the townhouses really cool,” she explained. “We had this really nice backyard, and you could go out there and throw a Frisbee around or just sit.”

Masters understands that the school is doing the construction for incoming students. She said she appreciates some things that have come from the University’s construction, such as Windgate Visual Arts East, which she uses for her major, digital media arts.

North Slope Apartments site workers encountered complications and were not able to turn electricity and water on in time for the arrival of student leaders, said Bryan Cole, townhouse residence director. Students were moved to Walker while workers finished on the lines. Cole said telephone lines were also down, but are now back up.

Cole asked workers to give him as much warning as possible with anything that will affect students. In the past Nabholz has done well at communicating with the school, and he expects that to remain the same. He said that any other shut-offs would probably affect the bottom four townhouses, since they are on the same line as the future apartment complexes.

Cole said he would have to cancel or rework some townhouse events, like the barbecue and the slip ‘n’ slide. He plans to hold the barbecue off campus this year.

Cole hopes that once the apartments are finished, they will make the north slope into a larger community. The new apartments will create a circle and give all of the townhouses and apartments one central, open area that can be used for gatherings.

Rick Mason, a Professional Cabling Solutions employee, has been working to install lines for the new apartments. Mason said he has been working for the University off and on for eight or nine years. “A lot more doors are open since all of these new facilities have come in,” he said. “It’s really satisfying to see how much [the campus has] grown.”