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More than $2B in construction paints OSU’s future

Emily Tara / Lantern photographer

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South Campus dorms, a demolished lot between Woodruff and 19th Avenues, Sullivant Hall, the RPAC and Hopkins Hall are some of the larger construction projects happening at Ohio State. Some students hate it, some deal with it and some look forward to the change.

For President E. Gordon Gee, the billions of dollars worth of construction on campus are part of the bigger picture of OSU’s future.

“We have more construction than we possibly could imagine,” Gee told The Lantern editorial staff on Feb. 6. “More than $2 billion worth, I can’t get around, but I always remind you that you never want to be at a place (that doesn’t have) a lot of cranes.”

Cranes, fences and construction trailers are not hard to find on campus. Students like Allison Caudill, a fourth-year in nursing, said the ever-present construction sites have become the norm.

“Construction has been here since I was a freshman,” Caudill said. “And I feel like it’s always going to be around.”

The largest project under construction, other than expansion of the Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University, is the high rise renovation of the South Campus dorms, said Ken Wayman, the senior director of design and construction for OSU’s Facilities Operations and Development (FOD). The current phase of this $172 million project is renovating Park Hall and Stradley Hall.

Rachel Dimond, a second-year in psychology who works in Smith Hall, said the construction is hurting the university’s image in the short term.

“It’s very frustrating,” Dimond said. “I just feel like it takes away from the whole picture of the university, because when I think of Ohio State, now I just think of construction. It makes me sad. I honestly feel like we can use that money toward better things.”

Wayman said the current phase of the South High Rise renovation is set to be completed by Fall Semester. The next phase will consist of Smith, Steeb and Siebert Halls, and should be completed by Fall Semester 2013.

Another significant construction project, which is estimated to cost $126 million, will be constructed on the site of four recently demolished buildings between Woodruff Avenue and 19th Avenue, Wayman said.

“We have demolished Boyd Lab, Johnston Lab, Aviation (Building) and Haskett Hall, and will begin construction on the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry building (CBEC),” Wayman said.

The CBEC will be a laboratory building that will become home to the departments of chemical engineering and chemistry. Over the past few years, the occupants of the demolished buildings have all been relocated to other buildings on campus. Wayman said construction on CBEC will start in June and should be finished by the end of 2014.

Brian Desmond, a third-year in international studies, said these types of construction projects are necessary for the university.

“Some of the buildings on campus are really old so the new renovations are nice,” Desmond said. “The construction hasn’t really gotten in my way at all.”

Some buildings like Sullivant Hall, which is under construction, are outdated but considered historical, so renovation is preferred to demolition. Construction in Sullivant will cost $26 million and will see completion in fall 2013, Wayman said, and will once again house the Department of Dance and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. In the meantime, the Department of Dance will be operating out of Pomerene Hall.

Also in progress on campus is the construction on the north side of the RPAC, which is the steam and condensation project, now in phase two of replacing steam lines from McCraken Power Plant to the medical center and other areas of campus, which will be completed in summer 2013.

Hopkins Hall is in its final stretch of mechanical renovations, and should be wrapped up in fall.

Whether students are as enthusiastic about construction as Gee or can’t wait to get out of the rubble, construction will follow.

“They have to expand, so I understand,” Caudill said. “But I feel like they have to stop at some point. They keep finding ways to fit more people in.”

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