Campus in bloom

GVL / Robert Mathews
A construction worker from Wolverine Building Group trims a beam of wood on top of the newest addition of the Zumberge Library.

GVL / Robert Mathews A construction worker from Wolverine Building Group trims a beam of wood on top of the newest addition of the Zumberge Library.

Lizzy Balboa and Ryan Jarvi

As campus traffic picks up with the start of a new school year, construction begins to wind down at Grand Valley State University after a busy summer building season.

Jim Bachmeier, vice president of Finance and Administration at GVSU, said the university usually spends about $5 million each year on small projects—$3.5 million on general “upkeep,” such as resurfacing parking lots, and $1.5 million in the student housing buildings.

In addition to the smaller projects, GVSU has had six major construction plans that were scheduled to take place over the summer, including:

• The new L. William Seidman Center, which opened for classes in May;
• The Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, which opened for students June 24;
• The Allendale Science Laboratory Building expected to be finished August 2015 with extensive site utility work already completed this summer;
• The Allendale Market Place Building scheduled to begin this summer and expected to be finished August 2015;
• Renovations to Zumberge Hall set to be completed summer of 2014;
• An addition to Au Sable Hall, which began in June and is set to be completed summer 2014.

James Moyer, associate vice president for Facilities Planning, said summer construction has gone as planned with no setbacks or delays.

“GVSU has a significant shortage of space for classrooms, offices and student support spaces,” Moyer said. “These projects will help alleviate a portion of that shortage.”

All of the new projects will be constructed for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, Moyer said. With the exception of the old library, no building under renovation was closed for summer classes.

As GVSU continues to expand its campus with new construction, its enrollment numbers are growing at a slower rate. Over the past 12 years, its student population has gone up 32.7 percent, but in the last three years it has changed by only about 1 percent.

“What we’re actually doing is building to meet the enrollment that was added in the last decade, for which we did not build much,” said Matt McLogan, vice president of University Relations. “So in some respects, it’s catching up.”

The university also completed smaller construction projects throughout the summer, including expansion of sidewalks to include a bikeway.

“Sidewalks were added at Lot H and Lot K,” Moyer said. “Several parking lot improvements were undertaken and completed in Allendale and Grand Rapids, (and) the band practice field south of the Performing Arts Center was reconstructed and completed.”

One of the underground projects was to extend the central heating and cooling system to the east side of Campus Drive.

“Most of the buildings east of Campus Drive are on a central heating and cooling system,” Bachmeier said. “The heating and cooling system doesn’t cross the road, so (we) put the new building on the new heating and cooling system (by expanding it).”

McLogan said the amount of projects, large and small, may be a little unusual but isn’t unprecedented.

Moyer added that GVSU most recently underwent this level of construction when it was developing the Niemeyer Learning and Living Center, the Kelly Family Sports Center, an addition to the Kirkhof Center and the construction of the Connection.