Campus Changes Reflect UA’s Growth With Quality
From construction fences and enormous cranes around Bryant-Denny Stadium to the remodeled space that greets entrants to Lloyd Hall, signs of UA’s continued campus improvements are all around us — a testament to the University’s ongoing commitment to providing an excellent environment in which to live, work and learn.
Since 2004, the University has executed $1 billion worth of building work, says Tim Leopard, assistant vice president for construction, to enhance both academics and day-to-day life on campus. “There’s so much research out there about how the built environment can support the learning experience,” he says, adding that preservation of and improvements to existing facilities account for much of the total sum. “A large part of the billion dollars is taking care of what we have and ensuring its viability.”
Below are some of the highlights of current and recent campus development; watch for additional features about campus changes in future issues of Dialog.
The brand-new Capstone College of Nursing building, which sits across from DCH Medical Center and acts as a welcoming gateway to campus, is tailored specifically to the needs of nursing students, with state-of-the-art technological equipment and features that encourage interactive learning and hands-on experience. Among its highlights is a new simulation center, in which students diagnose and treat realistic-looking human patient simulators that are controlled behind the scenes by their instructors. A tool called MediVision records the student’s interaction with his or her patient, which can be reviewed and discussed afterward.
The south end zone expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium — the fourth expansion since 1988 and the seventh since the stadium was built in 1929 — was completed this summer, with dedication on Aug. 20. The expansion, totaling some 230,000 square feet, boosted the stadium’s seating capacity to 101,821, which makes it the fifth-largest stadium in the nation. The added space houses an upper deck, skyboxes on two levels and a new stadium club level. Two restaurant companies also have opened locations as part of the Bryant-Denny expansion: Zoë’s Kitchen, a fast-casual eatery with a Mediterranean-influenced menu; and YogurtLab, which offers self-serve frozen yogurt.
Construction on Lloyd Hall, which has been renovated in phases over the recent years, has wrapped up, and the remodeled first and ground floors are ready for use. The building will function as general classroom space available to all colleges and depart- ments. The remodel also includes Stewart’s Corner, a new dining and social area (see Connections on page 4 of this issue).
Work continues on the Science and Engineering Complex. Phase II, adjacent to Shelby Hall, was completed last summer. The complex houses freshman chemistry instructional labs; biological sciences teaching labs; faculty and students from several engineering departments working on biological engineering and networked systems; College of Education science teaching labs; the Science in Motion biology program; and research space for biological sciences faculty and students. Phase III is under construction and projected to open in November 2011.
This new phase will include classrooms, research and instructional labs, and faculty offices for engineering faculty involved in research on structures, combustion, electromechanical systems, dynamics, and embedded systems. With “Engineering on Display” among the themes for the building’s design, provi- sions were made to allow for live view- ing of research activities.
Renovations to Foster Auditorium are currently underway, with an antici- pated early November completion date. The renovations include the Malone- Hood Plaza in front of the building, a prominent feature of which is the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower, to honor the courage of Vivian Malone, James Hood and Autherine Lucy and their important role in UA’s history. Expanded space in the auditorium will serve as the new home of Crimson Tide volleyball and women’s basketball.
As UA’s enrollment has continued its planned growth, the need for parking has increased accordingly. The new Northeast Commuter parking lot, including the Campus Drive parking deck, expands the space available for students who drive to campus. Additional parking is currently under construction adjacent to the Riverside East lot for residential students.
Currently under construction are a new building to house UA’s Hillel organization; a batting facility and clubhouse expansion for the Crimson Tide softball team; and a new house for Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Projects on the horizon, Leopard says, include Phase IV of the Science and Engineering Complex; a new food service facility in the area of Bidgood and Alston Halls; a new North Campus residential community; a new sorority row development; and restorations to Gorgas House and the brick-and-limestone exterior of B.B. Comer Hall.
Of course, landscaping plays an important role both in new construction and ongoing improvements to campus. Duane Lamb, assistant vice president for facilities and grounds, and his team work to ensure that landscaping creates a pleasing aesthetic for both new and existing structures and that the grounds are kept neat and well-maintained. He mentions renovation of the cisterns on Marr’s Spring Road as one major focus for his group this semester.
In addition, several historic and prominent buildings on campus have been the focal point of a critical exterior facelift and cleaning. This includes repairing and renovating damaged external stone, brick and masonry work, replacing roofs and restoration of staircases. Some examples of this are Denny Chimes, Reese Phifer Hall and Carmichael Hall, all of which now look as striking as when they were first constructed, Lamb says.
Interior improvements and renovations have also taken place in many of our facilities, such as the restoration of the original second-floor ballroom pinewood floor at Smith Hall. Great pride has also been taken in re-landscaping areas throughout campus, which includes professional designs, manicured shrubs and flowerbeds. “All the facilities and grounds improvements in recent years have not only elevated The University of Alabama as one of the nation’s most beautiful university campuses, but will also ensure that our incredible buildings, architecture and landscape will be just as beautiful for future generations to enjoy,” Lamb says.
Leopard is quick to point out that one of the most important considerations about campus construction is not what’s visible, but what often goes unseen. From maintaining clean job sites to scheduling construction and renovation work during the summer, when fewer students are on campus, Leopard says that the University goes to great lengths to keep the changes as nonintrusive as possible to academic life.
“We’re not here for construction,” he says. “We’re here for the students.”