Dorm construction still on pace


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The cranes looming over Grand Avenue have done their work well.

More than half of the windows of the Mary Louise Peterson Residence Hall are installed, and the exterior is mostly finished, giving Iowa City residents a glimpse of the future.

The residence-hall project should be completed by its original deadline of May 2015 despite the difficult weather conditions the past couple of months, including the rainfall these past few weeks, said Rodney Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management.

“The number of days affected by subzero temperatures challenged the contractors, but efforts to catch up where needed have been successful,” he said.

Even after construction is technically complete, there will still be some minor finishing touches required, but the completion date ensures that the dorm will be ready for the UI fall 2015 semester.

The cost of the project is $53 million.

Completion of the Peterson dorm will allow the university to demolish the aging Quadrangle in the fall of 2015 to make way for a new College of Pharmacy facility.

University officials had requested $64.3 million in the form of a four-year state funding plan in order to help build the pharmacy-school facility, but that was turned down at the end of the legislative session.

However, Gov. Terry Branstad did express enthusiasm for the project, citing the need to address the teaching, learning, and research needs of future pharmacists in Iowa, Lehnertz said.

He expects that approval will be granted in the coming year, allowing the project to move forward on schedule.

“At this point, the plans aren’t final,” said UI spokesman Tom Moore.

Another new residence hall is also in the preliminary stages. The building, which is currently titled Madison Street Residence Hall, would cost an estimated $33 million, and the construction finish date is set for May 29, 2018, according to the UI Facilities Management website.

The new 501-person west-campus dorm is designed with a learning commons that Lehnertz says will be easy for students from across campus to use both casually and for rigorous study.

In order to accomplish this, the building will include not only space for students to socialize but a student sports grill that will accept Hawk Dollars as payment.

The building is the first dormitory to be built on the UI campus since 1968, and its design is based on the UI’s living-learning-community approach to residency.

Students and RAs will be placed on different floors based on their academic interests, which officials hope will foster academic and social success. Each floor has 26 to 28 double rooms clustered around a study lounge.

The current College of Pharmacy buildings are located in two connected buildings, one built in 1997 and the other in 1961.

All the construction can be inconvenient to UI students such as John Zanussi, but ultimately, it is a sign of progress.

“It seems like the sign of a growing economy,” he said.

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