When it comes to the building construction of the Beckman Institute’s newest neighbor, the worst may be over. The construction of the new Electrical and Computer Engineering building is on schedule, according to Beckman Director of Facilities Rob Fritz, with most of the noisier, ground-shaking work out of the way.
“The weather has been cooperative and the project is going well right now,” Fritz said. “The proposed substantial building completion date is July 10, 2014. That’s something they are shooting for so they can get all moved in and set up before classes start the fall semester of 2014.”
The construction of the ECE building, which began in earnest earlier this year, has led to support beams being pounded into the ground and much of the Beckman garden giving way to construction of a tunnel linking the two buildings.
All of the activity has resulted in Beckman researchers and staff dealing with the effects of the construction on their machines, sidewalks being blocked, and access to the garden closed off. But, Fritz said, for the most part things have gone smoothly.
Fritz said there were no major problems from the construction.
“This is not to say the Beckman Institute has not been affected at all,” Fritz said. “Vibrations throughout our facility due to pilings being driven into the ground for shoring the tunnel dig, two main domestic water main breaks due to the heavy equipment causing mandatory boil orders, and losing our garden area for most of the summer have been inconveniences.
“The project managers have been keeping us informed of such activities so communication has been pretty good as we were able to inform everyone within the building prior to outages or disruptions.”
Fritz added that the vibration from tunnel shoring didn’t seem to bother as many people as pounding the pilings. More vibrations will come when the pilings are removed from the tunnel construction area.
“To get the pilings out, contractors will again utilize vibration” Fritz said. “Then, along the north-south Wright Street sidewalk, the pilings will be placed in the ground again as the tunnel continues south. This will be further away from Beckman so it should not pose a problem to us, but our staff will let everyone at Beckman know once scheduled.”
The tunnel is scheduled to be finished next spring, with restoration of the garden to follow.
“They are expecting completion of the tunnel with excavation, construction, waterproofing, backfill, and finally restoring the landscape, pavers and garden area,” Fritz said. “We’re hoping at this point to have the garden put back together during the summer of 2013.”
Fritz said Beckman personnel should expect another chilled water outage early in 2013 as the campus chilled water loop is connected to ECE. An unexpected valve problem caused a short outage earlier this year. The planned outage is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 7th from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m.
“Everyone affected in the building is working together to make this scheduled chilled water outage go smoothly,” Fritz said.
Once completed and opened in 2014, the 230,000-square foot ECE building will house classrooms, labs, and offices. Beckman is home to nearly 20 ECE faculty members.
For more on the building’s progress, check out this ECE web site.