GV blooms with summer building projects

Lizzy Balboa and Ryan Jarvi

As the summer season kicks off again, Grand Valley State University construction projects won’t be taking a break.

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 will have six major construction plans that are scheduled to take place over the summer. These projects include:
• The new L. William Seidman Center scheduled to open for classes this May;
• The Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons open for students June 24;
• The Allendale Science Laboratory Building expected to be completed August 2015 and already in the utility stage of construction;
• 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;
• And renovations and an addition to Au Sable Hall scheduled to begin in June and completed summer 2014.

James Moyer, associate vice president for Facilities Planning, said all of the new projects will be constructed for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, and with the exception of the old library, no building under renovation will be closed for summer classes.

“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.”

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 is also doing smaller construction projects throughout the summer, including expansion of sidewalks.

“A lot of that work is to support the truck traffic and delivery of products,” Bachmeier said, adding that it also provides an opportunity to do work on below ground infrastructure such as the water system.

One of the underground projects is 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,” he said. “The heating and cooling system doesn’t cross the road, so were going to put the new building on the new heating and cooling system (by expanding it).”

The field adjacent to the Performing Arts Center will also undergo construction to include materials that will allow the band to practice outside without trudging through mud and undesirable conditions. Bachmeier said new dirt and grass seed will be brought in, and while the torn up field might appear to be a large project, it still falls under the cost of the smaller, routine summer maintenance.

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

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, Moyer said.

This summer’s load is partially finished, though. Some of the projects will clear up soon, including the construction around the Pew Library, McLogan said. The Seidman Center is also nearing completion, as the faculty began moving in the last week of April.

But as these tasks come to a finish, others will just begin.

“In about six weeks, we should be shifting rather quickly across the street to the science building, then Au Sable and Zumberge,” McLogan said. “You’re going to see some changes in the ways the fences are laid out, (and) it will be a little easier to navigate around the construction sites in the fall than it is right now.”

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