IWU classroom building ahead of schedule thanks to dry weather

2012-11-29T16:11:00Z 2012-11-29T17:58:07Z IWU classroom building ahead of schedule thanks to dry weatherBy Lenore Sobota | lsobota@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

BLOOMINGTON — “Good planning and great weather” have enabled construction of a classroom building at Illinois Wesleyan University to keep on or ahead of schedule, according to project superintendent Mark Parker.

Construction crews were able to meet the goal of having the roof completed and building enclosed before Thanksgiving.

Work on retaining walls is expected to begin the second week in December, said Parker, of Bloomington-based Johnston Contractors. Installation of the epoxy terrazzo floor is likely to start after the first of the year, he said.

IWU Assistant Provost Frank Boyd, whose office is in Boyd Hall, next to the construction site, said, “It’s a lot easier to coordinate a project when you can look out your window at it.”

If construction continues to proceed smoothly, faculty members will be able to move into the building in late summer and get settled before classes begin, Boyd said.

It was less than a year ago — Dec. 20, 2011 — that the first pilings were placed for the 48,700-square-foot building on the north side of the Eckley Quad.

“The dry summer, while it was bad for our friends in the country in agriculture, was excellent for building a new building,” Boyd said.

The $16 million building is being funded through gifts to the university.

Throughout the building, 8½-by-11 pieces of paper are tacked up with masking tape, noting what each room will be used for and the donor associated with it. The sign by the case study room listed it as “available.” Another room’s sign said, “Pending.”

Boyd said the signs are in place “so when donors come through, they can see who’s donated which rooms.”

The building itself doesn’t have a name yet.

When completed, the multidisciplinary building will contain 19 classrooms, 24 faculty offices, faculty support space and a student economics research lab. The lab will include computers with statistical software used by the students, Boyd said.

The classrooms are of varying sizes and layouts and much of the furniture will be on wheels or casters, allowing for greater flexibility than the traditional classrooms with rows of desks with the instructor in front.

Many of the rooms will be fronted by glass rather than enclosed by solid walls. The design not only allows for greater use of natural light, which cuts down on energy costs, but also serves another purpose. Boyd said studies have shown “more natural light is conducive to higher productivity.”

Parker said about 30 to 50 workers are on the site during the current phase. At the height of initial construction, about 70 workers were on the job, he said.

“Hopefully, with a mild winter, we’ll get going on the plaza” and complete it in April, Parker said. “We’ll just keep plugging away.”

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