University construction under way

Photo/Rachel D’Oro/AP

The University of Alaska’s three main locations are getting their work crews ready as the spring season allows building to begin. A few big buildings are in store around the state but most of this year’s work remains in standard maintenance.

One of those bigger projects belongs to Anchorage’s campus. Clearing out is under way for the new 5,000-seat sports arena. Site clearing for the $109 million, 190,000 square foot project has begun, as the university has gotten the final funding. The design is by McCool Carlson Green of Anchorage with Cornerstone General Contractors doing the building, which is expected to be completed in 2014.

“You’ll see a building coming out of the ground in the fall,” said Chris Turletes, associate vice chancellor for facilities and campus services.

The new arena will replace the currently used Wells Fargo Sports Complex, which Turletes said is “woefully undersized.” The complex seats around 1,000 and is used for a variety of games like basketball, volleyball and intramural sports. Turletes said it will continue to be used for student recreation and activities like hockey practice.

The University of Alaska Anchorage has a few other big projects going on like a $5 million renovation at the wellness center at Prince William Sound Community College, which should be completed next summer.

Work should also start soon for classroom additions at the Matanuska-Susitna campus to build more space for nursing and paramedic programs.

Design work is being done for the new Mat-Su Valley Center for Arts and Learning theater and the new engineering building, but construction will not begin this year.

A significant project under way is a $15.3 million career and technical center at Kenai Peninsula College. Another $17.8 million is going into new student housing, which Turletes said is a first for the campus.

Like the other UA sites, several millions of dollars will go into infrastructure projects like roofing and deep maintenance, including plumbing, boilers and air handling equipment.

Turletes is optimistic about project funding, saying this is the third year the governor has provided allowance for fund renewal. Other buildings and designs have been completed over the last several years, such as last year’s opening of a $45 million, 65,000 square foot health sciences building that opened last year art a cost of around $45 million.

“We’ve been vey lucky with new construction,” Turletes said.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will be working on more maintenance issues than new buildings. Still, these projects are pretty large undertakings.

UAF design and construction director Gary Johnston said among the biggest are a utilidor installation as part of a project to expand steam capacity to West Ridge, as well as a sewer line replacement from Lola Tilly Commons to Wood Center.

Most of the building work is going into renovations. Johnston gave several examples, like the Community and Technical College getting a new roof plus fourth floor revitalizations that will aid in its health care programs. Other buildings renovations will be at Arctic Health Research Laboratory electrical revitalizations, lobby and office upgrades at the Student Recreation Center and new retaining walls at Cutler Apartments and the Patty Center.

As far as new buildings, work is continuing on a new life sciences building that broke ground last year. It’s expected to be completed in 2013. Big work is also happening at the Atkinson Power Plant, as multi-year modifications will renew the deaerator, feeder heater and valves. Renewals will also raise the electrical distribution voltage.

Things are also happening in three locations of the University of Alaska Southeast. Director of Facilities Keith Gerken said most of the projects are smaller renewal things like roofing, paving, boilers and system modernization.

“They aren’t glamorous but keep the building stock working as efficiently as we want them to be,” he said.

Still, there are a few larger projects in the works. The second phase of the work on a pedestrian greenway at the Auke Lake campus in Juneau is going on. Gerken said this is a $4 million project phased over four years.

Design is being done on a new $8 million student housing project that is expected to break ground next spring. It will add 60 beds to the Juneau campus.

Remodeling is going on to add space at the Sitka campus. This will provide new areas for vocational education, lecture areas and construction technology space. This is part of continuous work to help turn the former PBY aircraft hangar into a modern learning facility.

The Ketchikan campus is getting a new principle parking lot plus a boat davit to be used as a lifeboat training facility, something Gerken said is a $750,000 device.

The Institute of Social Economic Research states in its 2012 construction forecast that education spending is up 15 percent fro last year due to a large state education general obligation bond package that passed in 2010.

11/08/2016 - 12:08pm