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ECU construction projects building momentum

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Construction continues on the new Student Center at East Carolina University, which is expected to be finished later in 2018.

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By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Monday, June 25, 2018

Work to raise ECU’s new centerpiece student center and adjacent parking deck remain on track for a completion in November, while work on several other major construction projects also is progressing well, officials said last week.

The 217,000-square-foot building on main campus off 10th Street and near Joyner Library is being funded by student fees and auxiliary receipts at a cost of $122.2 million. Work began in November 2016 and completion originally was expected this month.

The facility now is expected to be finished in mid- to late October, with a grand opening planned for the beginning early November, said Gina Shoemaker and John Fields of ECU’s Facilities, Engineering and Architectural Services.

Plumbing and electrical work is essentially completed, with a tie-in to a water main on 10th Street still to be achieved with the help of Greenville Utilities, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the City of Greenville. That work likely will require a road closure that will last 3-5 days, Shoemaker said. 

“The completion punch list should be minimal; furniture and audio-visual equipment — including a jumbo outdoor screen called ‘Pirate Vision’ — has been ordered, and we added some branding elements to the project that were not in the university’s original plans,” she said. 

Large precast concrete ‘ECU’ letters at the intersection of Charles and 10th streets, fabric sails inside the building, coins placed into the terrazzo floors in front of the elevator, giving the impression of a pirate’s booty spilling out onto the floor and 12-foot-tall acrylic purple letters that spell out ‘Aarrgh!’ visible to passersby on 10th Street all will express Pirate pride to the students and  visitors.

“We wanted the branding to go beyond athletics and encompass the entire university and be very student-centric,” Shoemaker said. “There are some really cool things that have been added, so we gave the contractor 30 extra days on the timetable to implement these additions.”

The new parking deck will contain 722 spaces, adding about 200 to the total number previously available in the outdoor lot on which the new building stands. Some surface parking will continue to be available beside the deck, and more is being created on 10th Street, she said.

The project is among several ongoing at the university:

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium southside renovation

The $60-million project, with nearly $33 million funded by Pirate Club supporters, is on track to have its temporary press box, light towers and most of the “white” parking lot complete in time for this year’s first home football game, Shoemaker said. The project will add add about 1,000 premium seats in a four-story structure that will house a new club level, suites and loge boxes.

The ECU athletics ticket office will be moved and team locker rooms added to Scales Field House, according to ECU News Services reports. An 8,000-square-foot open area also is planned between the west end zone and the Murphy Center to provide close-up viewing of on-field action.

Construction also amped up after baseball season ended June 3 on an indoor hitting facility connected to Clark-LeClair Stadium, expected to be completed in August.

Concurrent with the football stadium project, a first-floor reconstruction of the Ward Sports Medicine building is underway, including a new athletic trainers’ facility, football locker room, lounge and equipment room. That project is slated for completion in August for the start of football preseason camp, media relations director Tom McClellan said.

Completion of the entire project is slated for late June 2019. Temporary gates will be in place for fans to enter the south side while construction continues, Shoemaker said. Regular and ADA-compliant spaces will be available for this season, but they will not be laid out exactly the same way as when completed in 2019.

“There will be roughly 400 premium parking spaces in the white lot for people who have purchased spaces, and about 500 spaces in total when the lot is finished next year,” Shoemaker said.  

Construction will continue between games until the project is complete, requiring announced gate locations to shift during the process, Shoemaker said.

Greene residence Hall

Bids opened on Thursday for state contracts on this $28.5-million complete renovation project managed by Frank L. Blum construction and funded by campus housing receipts. A pre-construction meeting is scheduled with the state this week, followed by interior demolition work, Shoemaker said.

“The inside will be gutted and the exterior finish will be stripped, the same as with the White and Clement residence halls projects,” she said. “It will look like a skeleton.”

A new brick and concrete exterior that matches Clement and White halls will replace the old exterior. Inside, newly designed bathrooms will be installed, along with new lounges. The first floor will be completely reconfigured with a centralized laundry room and a large lounge. Even the elevators will be replaced in this project. The dorm rooms will get face lifts with new paint, drywall and closet hardware. New bathrooms will have larger, more user-friendly counters, wall-length mirrors, bright new lighting and contemporary-styled showers with new plumbing fixtures, Shoemaker said.

Greene has always had a lovely courtyard facing north, and now the south side will receive a major upgrade and facelift, with pergolas, landscaping and pavers, she said.

Life Sciences/Biotechnology building

Located on the Millennial Campus site in Greenville’s 10th Street warehouse district, the $95-million, 141,500-square-foot Life Sciences and Biotechnology building was designed by Chapel Hill-based Lord Aeck Sargent. Construction is contracted by Charlotte-based Rodgers Builders

The four-story building (plus a mechanical storage area above) will house interdisciplinary  and cross-functional programs that involve external partners, faculty, and students in the fields of biology, chemistry, and biomedical/process engineering. The project will construct state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, offices and support space, providing a more direct interface between the university community and regional partners, Fields said. 

Floor-plan layouts are progressing and have been approved by the executive committee. Design development has been finalized and submitted to the safety code office for approval, Fields said.

The building will be on the site of a former dry cleaner, whose buried cleaning chemical storage leaked contaminants into the ground. The property has been been designated a “Brownfield” site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency PA Engineers, meaning property whose expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

Contractors will follow the Brownfields program to deal with the issue before construction begins, Fields said.

“”We will excavate to remove some of the contaminants that soaked into the ground, and they will tell us how to do that, for the safety of those who will be working on the site and those who will use it once we’re finished,” he said. “The process is built into the construction timetable”  

A large feature of the new research facility is the one-path air treatment system that controls, restricts and directs air flow to prevent cross-contamination and preserve the integrity of research materials, Fields said.

“We should have a guaranteed maximum price sometime in December, and the contractor, Rogers Builders, should have subcontractor bids issued in April,” he said. “It’s right around the corner.”

Completion of the construction phase is projected at about two-and-a-half years from the start of construction, Fields said.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507.

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