A water line failure in one of Fort Hays State University’s new residence halls has caused some scrambling for contractors, but the building is expected to be ready for students to move into as scheduled.
The water line break occurred nearly two weeks ago on the fourth floor of Victor E. Village, just north of Wiest Hall, causing a flood that affected the lower levels in the northeast corner of the building, said Dana Cunningham, FHSU facilities planning director.
“It created a lot of extra work at the 11th hour, so we’re pressing hard so we can achieve move-in when we need to for all areas of that building,” he said.
In addition to the repairs, crews are finishing up work outside that building and the second new residence hall, Tiger Village, including installing handrails, concrete work and landscaping.
Move-in day for Victor E. Village, which can house more than 600 freshmen, will be Aug. 16. The students will live in learning communities — groups of 15 to 30 students who have common interests or classes and who will participate in activities together.
The 18 learning communities are centered around such areas as athletics and leadership, arts, international studies, the environment, outdoor activities and first-generation students, and majors such as social work, speech-language pathology, nursing and education.
Tiger Village, a themed housing unit, also will open for this semester. The building consists of four “houses,” each accommodating 24 students. Each house will have its own living room, full kitchen and semi-private bathrooms. Community rooms and a laundry facility will be shared.
Three of FHSU’s Greek organizations — fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon and sororities Delta Zeta and Sigma Sigma Sigma — and a sophomore learning community will be housed there.
The cost of the two residence halls is approximately $36 million.
The third building to open this year is the $15.4 million Center for Applied Technology and Sculpture west of the Memorial Union.
The 58,000 square foot building will house laboratories and lecture space for courses in CAD, graphics, woodworking, metalworking, plastics, robotics and construction management, as well as studios for sculpture and metal foundry.
Aside from some work on the roofing membrane that started Monday, the building is ready, Cunningham said.
“Most of the equipment is all moved into the building, and the faculty are slowly migrating in there as well,” he said.
Eric Deneault, assistant professor of applied technology, said the building has a “wow” factor.
The building is student-centered, he said, with an atrium-like commons area off the main entrance and a “cafe” with tables and bar-like seating.
Classroom computer upgrades include the ability for faculty to “push” lecture materials to student computers rather than using overhead projectors, and dual monitors so students can watch a tutorial on one and work on the other. There also are stand-alone drafting tables and the campus’ only dedicated STEM lab
“We’ve always been able to serve our students with the highest level of technology. But now the building matches that,” Deneault said.
“Davis served us well. But the opportunities now that this building possesses … we don’t even know what it can do,” he said.
With the new buildings completed, attention will turn to demolition. Asbestos abatement and internal demolition of Wiest Hall already has begun, Cunningham said.
“Once the abatement is complete, probably around the 20th of August, you may begin to see the actual physical demolition begin,” he said.
The remaining five-story tower of Wiest will not have an explosive end, however, as it is only 35 feet from the newer residence halls at its closest point.
“That would be fun, but it’s not going to happen,” Cunningham said.
A 300-space parking lot will be constructed on that site and should be complete by June.
The asbestos abatement contractor will move to Davis Hall in approximately three weeks, and then that building will be demolished to make room for two projects — an art building and the Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success.
The art building is in the design phase. Contractor bids are expected in December, with construction expected to begin shortly after the beginning of 2018.
A breezeway will connect that building to the old power plant on North Campus Drive. It will be renovated into art galleries.
The exterior of the only red-brick building on campus will remain the same, including the relief sculptures near its roof.
“That’s what most people remember about the building,” Cunningham said. “It’s a 1930s power plant, and in that era, they did these wonderful reliefs. They’re very industrial in nature.”
The $16 million, three-story Fischli-Wills Center will be connected to the Memorial Union by a second floor walkway. It will house student services such as career exploration, tutoring and academic support, personal and mental health counseling, and will relocate offices for student government, the Center for Student Involvement, and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity Excellence.
That building is still in planning phases and is hoped to be in use in 2020 or 2021. It is named for FHSU alumni Richard and Dolores Fischli, who last year committed $5 million to its construction.
A $4 per credit hour student fee that will go into effect in fall 2019 is expected to pay for another $5.6 million of the building’s cost.
One other large project scheduled in the upcoming year on campus won’t be as visible. The two large boilers at the Akers Energy Center will be replaced at a cost of $4 million. The boilers have been in place for approximately 50 years, Cunningham said.