IMU work continues

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | MAY 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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The orange mesh fences and mud pits will be around for just another year.

Flood mitigation and recovery construction at the IMU began this fall. The project will implant exterior flood protection, such as a floodwall and renovate the building’s ground floor, which has been closed since being damaged in the 2008 flood.

Constructed is estimated to cost $22 million, with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Grady said the project is still within budget.

The work on the ground floor is expected to be completed by April 2015 and the exterior by May 2015.

“The ground floor’s coming along well,” said UI Dean of Students David Grady. “The exterior is probably a little behind schedule because of the weather we had this winter and some of the archaeological finds around Hubbard Park, but we’re hoping with this nice weather that we’ll get right back up.”

When the ground floor is finished, plans include returning the University Bookstore to it, along with a Hills Bank branch, more study space, and a food court.

Construction has blocked access to Hubbard Park, the North Lounge, and some building entrances as well.

Noise from construction work has affected at least one UI student. Freshman Sara Lettieri regularly studies and does schoolwork in the second-floor student organization office suite, where she also does work for SCOPE.

“I hear it all the time in the office,” she said. “I can always hear the people doing construction through the air vents or through the walls, but it’s mostly just when I’m in the office. I can’t really hear it anywhere else.

“It’s annoying because it’s kind of intermittent, but sometimes it’ll go, and then it’ll stop, and then it’ll go, and there’s no way of knowing, but it’s got to be done, so it’s not like they can do anything about it.”

Grady acknowledged the noise. He said officials have worked with the contactor Miron Construction to limit building-accessibility issues to students.

“There is some noise, but that’s the sound of progress,” he said.

UI junior Rebecca McPhail said she “lives at the IMU,” but hasn’t been affected by noise while studying. However, she expressed concerns about the aesthetics of the construction.

“It looks kind of ugly,” she said. “It just doesn’t look attractive. If I were an incoming freshman, I’d be like, ‘What is this?’ ”

The work will be completed by the summer of 2015, when incoming freshmen arrive for Orientation, Grady said.

Several other projects, such as the Main Library’s Learning Commons, took precedence over the IMU flood mitigation, leading to several delays. Ground-floor design was drawn up before the Learning Commons opened.

As finals week approaches, seats across every floor of the IMU were filled with students preparing for exams.

“It’s still a place to study,” Lettieri said.

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