Breaking ground: An update on UNI’s construction

This summer, UNI Facilities installed a new HVAC system into Curris Business building, lifting the system over the building. The new HVAC system will prevent new servers from overheating.
This summer, UNI Facilities installed a new HVAC system into Curris Business building, lifting the system over the building. The new HVAC system will prevent new servers from overheating.

While students were away this summer, UNI Facilities Management kept their hands busy with projects ranging from routine touch-ups to major building renovations.

One of those major projects has been the work on phase one of the Innovative Teaching and Technology Center renovation to become the new home of UNI’s nursing program. The estimated $4.95 million project was approved by the Board of Regents in February, and the program is set to launch in Fall 2024, with the entire renovation project to be completed next July.

In the renovation, the ground floor and third floor are being converted into state-of-the-art nursing classrooms, including simulation rooms that will house hospital beds with robotic mannequins that can imitate a variety of conditions.

As of now, according to Director of Facilities Management Michael Zwanziger, they have taken down walls on the third floor to create space for the new classrooms, and the two classrooms on the ground floor have been gutted. Exam Services has been relocated to Student Accessibility Services in Gilchrist Hall, and the Center for Academic Advising will be relocated as renovations continue.

Facilities Management has also been making strides in the $44 million expansion and modernization of the Applied Engineering Building on the south side of campus. Phase one of the building is set to open for the spring semester, but work will continue to complete the project.

“We’re making really good progress, excited about this project to be open for spring, and then we’ll transition to phase two and that will be open for fall ‘25,” Zwanziger said.

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A change that most students have already noticed is the refurbishing of the Maucker Union coffeehouse. New furniture was purchased following a survey conducted by UNI Student Involvement and Event Services, including more booths, new carpet and longer tables in the center instead of so many individual tables. The booths in Rod Library were also reupholstered.

There’s a lot of that coordination that people don’t see

— Michael Zwanziger

The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center broke ground this summer on the $14.9 million expansion and renovation, part of the $250 million Our Tomorrow campaign. The renovation will include a new Marquee Lounge and renovated plaza area. So far, new seating has been installed in the Great Hall, and the rest of the project is in “deconstruction mode” according to Zwanziger, with demolition of a portion of the south side of the building having taken place.

Aside from the larger projects, Zwanziger said the main theme of this summer’s work was roofs. The team completed a $900,000 replacement of the Hagemann roof, $1.2 replacement of the Roth roof, $2.6 million replacement of the Wellness and Recreation Center roof and completed the $5 million ITTC roof project that began last year, which replaced the clay tile roof that was too heavy for the structure with a lighter alternative.

While Zwanziger noted that roof replacements might not seem the most exciting, he noted that there is always a lot of behind the scenes work.

“There’s a lot of that coordination that people don’t see,” he said. For instance, the WRC roof replacement project.

“We actually had to drain the lap pool to replace the roof,” he said. “The roof was to the point it was shot, so we removed everything, put new insulation down. To put new insulation down and new board, you screw into the roof deck, which when you do that, there’s little metal shavings that fall down — into the pool. Not a good situation,” he said.

The entire pool was drained and refilled over the summer, what Zwanziger said was a “pretty big endeavor.”

The south campus pedestrian bridge was also replaced, and Curris Business Building had to have a new HVAC system installed, a task that took a giant crane in the parking lot near Russell Hall to lift the system over to the building.

The HVAC system is part of a larger data-mining project at UNI. As UNI installed more servers into Curris, they needed more coolant to prevent the servers overheating.

“We were shutting down the road, parking, sidewalks, just to pick a piece of equipment up, but we need to do it safely, that’s certainly the priority for us, to do it safely,” Zwanziger said.

Looking ahead, Zwanziger said that the Campanile, which was under construction for the majority of the 2022-23 school year, will not see any significant construction for the Campanile Plaza renovation until next year. The gravel paths will remain in the grass for utility vehicle transportation as Facilities Management makes final touches to the projects and finalizes plans for the complete renovation.

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