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Campus construction update


A decorative UA in stone near the campus center

Several campus construction projects have been completed or are nearing completion, while others will soon begin. Following is a brief summary of the University’s significant capital projects:

ASEC insulation (University funds)

When weather permits, contractors will replace the insulation on the exposed mechanical ductwork on the roof. This will increase the overall efficiency of the mechanical systems and reduce energy consumption. Construction is expected to be completed in May 2021.

Auburn Science Engineering Center vivarium air handler replacement (state capital funds)

Design is complete and construction is expected to begin shortly. This project fully rebuilds and modernizes the facility’s air handling system. The project will result in increased reliability, greater energy efficiency and improved humidity controls. Construction is expected to be completed in July 2021.

Baseball field renovations (donations)

The new artificial turf surface for the baseball field at Lee Jackson Field was installed last spring while the new bleachers and press box were completed in January 2021. The dugouts are getting new roofs later this spring. 

Bierce Library renovations (state capital funds)

A full renovation of the restroom facilities was recently completed. In addition to all new plumbing, LED lighting and finishes, the renovation included the installation of water bottle fillers, a mother’s room and two single-stall, gender-neutral restrooms. One of the single-stall restrooms is an enhanced accessibility restroom and is equipped with a hydraulic lift.

Buckingham Center for Continuing Education renovations (state capital funds)

The Buckingham Center for Continuing Education received upgrades and improvements. The renovation project included replacing the air handling system and other building aesthetic improvements. The building is now home to Academic Achievement Programs.

Buckingham McClain Gallery (state capital funds)

As the campus community knows, the Dr. Shirla R. McClain Gallery of Akron Black History and Culture is part of the Pan African Center located within the Buckingham Building. The gallery renovation includes new lighting, casework, furniture, signage, cosmetic improvements, storefront and doors. The project will enhance the gallery's visibility and will expand its exhibits, highlighting African American achievements to the campus and the community. The construction is expected to begin fall 2021.

Campus HVAC indoor air quality improvements (grant funds)

In an effort to add an additional layer of COVID protection to campus facilities, the University installed Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI) units to approximately 140 air handling units in 27 buildings on the Akron, Wayne and Medina campuses. NPBI creates ions that travel with the airstream and attach to particles, pathogens and gases, significantly increasing their ability to be trapped by the system’s filters. While more scientific study is being conducted to verify its effectiveness on COVID-19, NPBI was recently third-party tested and showed it was able to deactivate 99% of the virus on surfaces after 30 minutes of operation. NBPI has also demonstrated that it has additional benefits such as deactivating other pathogens and molds and reduces the concentrations of volatile organic compounds.

A second phase is currently in development that will expand the implementation of the technology to an additional 19 campus buildings. Installation is expected to occur in summer 2021.

Campus infrastructure improvements – vaults and electrical (state capital funds)

The University continues to update and modernize its infrastructure. Construction to replace the Martin Garden utility vault was completed in August 2020.

The current phase of planned electric distribution system improvements was completed in January 2021. This project increased the stability of the University’s electric grid providing, redundancy to several buildings within the campus core. An additional phase to replace the electric feed to the Polsky Building is underway and is expected to be completed in spring 2021.

Campus surveillance camera updates (University funds)

As the first of a multi-phase project to upgrade and modernize the campus security camera system, contractors have begun installing up to 280 high-definition, digital security cameras at the entrances to 45 buildings. At the end of this phase, all building entrances will be covered. Completion expected in June 2021.

Computer Center air handler replacement (state capital funds)

The replacement of the air handler units that supply conditioned air to the campus’s main server, this project will provide improved reliability and increased energy efficiency. The contract has been awarded and construction is expected to begin in August 2021.

Crouse Hall and Ayer Hall consolidation and renovations project (state capital funds and University funds [limited])

Design is complete and construction is expected to begin shortly for the consolidation and renovation of Ayer and Crouse halls into a single building. The improved facility will house labs, faculty and administrative offices and modern general-purpose lecture halls.

The current Ayer Hall and Crouse Hall occupants will be relocated to Central Hower by June 2021 and the construction project will begin in July 2021. By fall 2023, the newly renovated and slightly expanded Crouse Hall will welcome back the Departments of Geology and Physics.

Energy Center boiler controls (University funds)

At its central plant, the University maintains three large boilers that provide heat to most of the buildings in the central core of campus through a series of underground pipes. The boiler system’s controls were recently upgraded. The new controls will significantly improve efficiency and will provide a wealth of legible data that will enhance the ability to maintain and troubleshoot the boilers for years to come.

Fire alarm upgrades Phase 6 (state capital funds)

The selection of the engineer is complete, and the design is to commence shortly. Upgrades include the replacement of the fire alarm systems at Bierce Library, Olsen Research Center and the older portion of the College of Business Administration. Construction is expected to take place in fall 2021.

Kolbe Hall roof (University funds)

A full replacement of the roof of Kolbe Hall and the installation of a new chiller unit for the facility are nearly complete. Coping will be installed as soon as weather permits.

Whitby Hall air handler and roof replacement (state capital funds)

Construction is substantially complete. The existing air handler, installed in 1974, had exceeded its useful life expectancy and no longer provided adequate performance to a facility whose needs have evolved over the decades. The new air handler has increased capacity and improved performance that also translates to better energy efficiency. The new roof will protect the building for the years to come.