Construction everywhere makes it a typical summer at Pittsburg State
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Never in Pittsburg State University’s history has so much construction been going on at the same time. But for Paul Stewart, director of facilities planning, and Lindell Haverstic, project architect, this is pretty much a typical summer on campus.
“In terms of dollar value, yes (it is unusual), because of the Center for the Arts,” Stewart said. “Also, the current projects are higher profile projects, so they have everyone’s attention.”
Stewart said that each of the nine summers he’s experienced since coming to PSU have been busy.
“What I look at is the number of projects,” Stewart said. “Whether it’s a small project or a large project, it takes the same amount of our involvement. What we think about is the number of projects and Lindell and I have carried three to four projects a summer each and that’s where we’re at, still.”
Right now, Stewart said, the Office of Facilities Planning is coordinating five major projects representing more than $60 million of work. Those include the installation of a new HVAC system in Heckert-Wells, the renovation of half of Nation residence hall, the expansion and renovation of the Overman Student Center, and the completion of the new Center for the Arts and the new Plaster Indoor Event Center.
Stewart said some projects are more complex than others. For example, the Center for the Arts is complex because of the special needs required for a top-of-the-line performance space. Likewise, Heckert-Wells is complex because of the unusual requirements of a building devoted almost solely to laboratory space. Work on the Overman Student Center is tougher, he said, because it is phased in order to allow some areas to remain open during construction.
The rhythm of the campus creates its own challenges. Stewart described it as the “workload rollercoaster.” Some projects, like residence hall renovation, must be done in the brief time over the summer months when most students are away from campus, he said. This is the sixth consecutive year that PSU has renovated one of its residence halls. Additionally, the summer is when a lot of other university departments request our services for new projects they are considering, not realizing that we typically plan projects a year in advance.
“I believe that we are exceptional in the amount of work that we have for the size of the university,” Stewart said. “For our size. I’m just amazed at what we have going on.”
Much of the funding for the current spate of projects at PSU has come from private gifts. Bonds pay for the student residence hall renovations and students have contributed for specific projects, such as the student center expansion and renovation. State funding for R&R (repair and rehabilitation) projects, which is now about $2.5 million, is earmarked for improvements to existing buildings, like Heckert-Wells.
“We get the R&R money from the state on July 1, so that’s when we start hiring, and getting bids for projects for the next summer. We start hiring for that in July as we’re finishing this year’s projects.”
Next month, as work continues on the five major projects Stewart’s office is responsible for, he and Haverstic will also be working on eight R&R projects for the summer of 2015.
Stewart said that although he has some personal pride in certain aspects of the projects he oversees, it’s not something he’s given much thought to.
“I’d call it enjoyment rather than pride,” he said.
Instead, he sees himself as a member of a very successful team.
“My pride comes in saying I’m the campus architect for Pittsburg State University, because then people who are familiar with what’s going on here know what I’m involved with,” Stewart said.
As workers across campus move the current projects another day toward completion, Stewart points to an easel where a large map illustrates the campus master plan. Over the next year and a half, the current projects will come online, but Stewart doesn’t expect the campus to stop changing and growing.
“I am optimistic,” Stewart said. “In my own mind, I anticipate good things on the horizon. If academics is growing, facilities have to respond.”
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