UI construction moves along

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 25, 2014 5:00 AM

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COUNCIL BLUFFS — Construction crews working on the new Hancher have been putting in long days.

Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management, said crews have been working 24 hours per day to ensure flood-recovery projects, especially the new Hancher, will be completed by the fall of 2016. The original facility was heavily damaged in the 2008 flood.

All projects remain on schedule, in part due to the around-the-clock work, despite not being able to work 32 days this winter because of cold weather, Lehnertz said at the state Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

Other flood recovery projects include replacement of the Voxman Music Building, repairs to Mayflower Residence Hall and the IMU, and construction of a new Museum of Art.

Lehnertz said crews have been working to use the cranes as much as they can to move such essential materials as steel rebar, which is used to support the concrete, foundation for the stages inside the auditorium.

“The sites have very limited space for truck maneuvering,” he said.

Because of this, construction materials must be delivered to one or two places on the site and then moved to where they are needed by the crane.

But the cold did set back pouring of concrete and foundation, Lehnertz said.

The contractors account for a set number of days it will be too cold to work in their schedules. With the harsh winter, the number cold days exceeded what the contractor had scheduled for, but 24-hour work stopped at the end of the month. 

“When they begin to work on the inside, this isn’t as big of an issue,” Lehnertz said.

He said the next step for the building will be to add the steel skeleton to the exterior of the building.

“I was amazed with how much they’ve been able to do, even with the weather,” said Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson.

Other UI officials are noticing the new auditorium as it progresses.

“It’s coming along nicely,” said Joe Brennan, the UI vice president for Strategic Communication.
Swanson said the UI has done a good job with bringing entertainment to campus despite not having the auditorium.

“We’ve missed the stage,” he said. “I feel like we’ve done some great programming, but the larger shows, we haven’t been able to accommodate those.”

He said the new auditorium will be able to accommodate full orchestras and Broadway shows.

“I’m ready. Everybody is ready,” Swanson said. “It’s like a flower. It changes every day.”

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