Campus construction to continue into 2018

Kayla Meyertons

Orange cones and jackhammers remain common sights on campus, indicating UT’s plethora of construction projects are far from over.

Four major construction projects are underway in the main campus area: the Speedway-East Mall project, the Engineering Education and Research Center, Robert B. Rowling Hall and an art installation outside the Blanton Museum of Art.

Mark Brooks, project manager at the UT System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction, said the Speedway-East Mall project is currently in its third phase of construction, which will last roughly through October or November 2017.

“We’re currently working on the east side of Speedway between Inner Campus Drive and 24th Street,” Brooks said. “Our plan is to finish up that area up by sometime in June of this year, and when we do that, we’ll transition to the west side of Speedway between Waggener Hall all the way north to the north face of Patterson in June.”

According to the UT construction advisory, the Speedway Mall has been under construction since May 23, 2016 and is in the process of being converted into a pedestrian walkway for students.

Laurie Lentz, communications manager for the Office of Campus Planning, said UT’s Utilities and Energy Management added $500,000 to the Speedway-East Mall project within the last two months to replace existing sewer infrastructure.

Lentz said the project was initially projected to end in December 2017 or January 2018, but this addition will push it to late spring 2018.

The Engineering Education and Research Center, a replacement for the functionally obsolete Engineering-Science Building, is set to be “substantially complete” this summer, allowing for classes to be held there in the fall, Lentz said. The Center will be a 430,000 square foot facility with open space for student projects, and will include a library, a café and 21st-century teaching and research labs.

“(Substantially complete) really indicates there may be some finishing touches still going on,” Lentz said. “People would probably still see contractors in that area, but essentially it will be ready to be occupied in the fall.”

Taylor Zhao, business and electrical engineering junior, said he is “absolutely psyched” for the Center to create a study space and community area for electrical engineers.

“Electrical engineers (currently) don’t have a building, so all our classes are all over campus, which is super annoying because you have to walk everywhere,” Zhao said. “Also, a lot of our teachers’ offices are really scattered.”

According to the construction advisory, Robert B. Rowling Hall, currently under construction, will be a 200,617-square-foot building for the McCombs Business School graduate programs.

Rowling Hall will house the program administration, Career Services, research centers, graduate classrooms, graduate student study areas, a below-space parking garage and a 93,424 square-foot expansion of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.

“Right now we’re working toward a November completion date of 2017,” Brooks said.

In addition, Ellsworth Kelly’s art installation titled “Austin” is a 2,715-square-foot stone structure that is seated on the grounds of the Blanton Museum and expected to be complete in the fall.

According to a Blanton press release, “Austin” will include colored glass windows, a totem wood sculpture and 14 black-and-white marble stone panels, all designed by Kelly.