Columbia’s construction projects set to finish by summer 2012

By Samuel Charles

The various construction projects around Columbia’s campus have been ongoing for more than a year. And now, while two projects are near completion, more are scheduled to begin in the next few months with the intent to keep buildings in line with safety codes.

The facade improvement projects being performed at the Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave., and South Campus Building, 624 S. Michigan Ave., are scheduled to be completed by May 2011. There are also plans to start facade improvement projects at the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., and the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building during the upcoming summer.

Currently, there is also work being done in the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building and the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave.

While the projects are in progress during the same time frame, the simultaneous efforts are being made to ensure the work will be completed as soon as possible, said John Kavouris, associate vice president of Facilities and Construction.

“The reason we’re doing all these is because they’d been neglected for a lot of years,” Kavouris said.

Kavouris added that the projects should have been executed earlier, but they had to be put on hold because of budget constraints.

“They were in need of repair,” he said. “Last year, we did a complete hands-on inspection.”

The hands-on inspection is a process in which members of Facilities and Operations go up the facade of a building and physically lay their hands on it to check for things that could be dangerous, such as loose fixtures.

The city of Chicago mandated Columbia inspect its campus buildings to check for anything that needed to be updated or repaired. If anything weren’t up to code, the college would be required to complete the necessary improvements by June 1, 2012. All construction is scheduled to be completed on time, and the canopies outside the Alexandroff Campus Center will be taken down by May 1.

One of the projects currently underway is the construction of the Media Arts Crisis Communication Research Center on the first floor of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building. The center’s construction generated noise from drilling and hammering that could be heard on the second floor of the building.

However, that phase is complete, and now workers are on to less invasive steps in the project. The Office of Facilities and Operations expects the project to be completed by the end of April.

“With any demolition project comes inherent noise,” Kavouris said. “But now we’ve moved on to painting and caulking.”

Like many other high-rise structures in the downtown area, several of Columbia’s campus buildings were built in the early 20th century.

Alicia Berg, vice president of Campus Environment, said the city was satisfied with the college’s plan to fulfill the request.

“Once [the city] saw what we had planned, we were set to move forward,” she said.