Campus construction expands for summer

Wesley Story

Students may notice an increase in hard hats and caution tape on campus this summer as the University amps up its efforts on a number of ongoing construction projects.

The expansion is an attempt to get as much work completed before students return for the fall semester, said Laurie Lentz, communications manager for the Office of Campus Planning. The main campus projects include the Speedway Mall project, the Engineering Education and Research Center, Robert B. Rowling Hall, repairs to L. Theo Bellmont Hall, an art installation outside the Blanton Museum of Art titled “Austin,” and renovations to Robert A. Welch Hall.

“There are a lot of projects that go on during the summer when there are fewer students and faculty on campus,” Lentz said. “When we have those opportunities to ramp up the work, we try to do that so there’s less construction later on.”

The Speedway Mall project, which will have cost $75 million at its completion, is one of the bigger and more visible projects taking place. The project is moving north of 24th Street, remaining primarily on the east side of campus, and is scheduled to expand to just a few feet north of the J.T. Patterson Labs Building by the end of August. Lentz said work on this “very long-term” project will likely go into spring 2018.

The office also decided to do work on the sewer lines under Speedway, which added additional costs and extended the time of the project by three to four months.

Alison Aydin, a human development and family sciences junior, said she feels bad for the students who will not get to experience the changes. 

“I’ll still be here when it’s all said and done, but it’s really not fair to the people that have to deal with the construction and then graduate before it’s completed,” Aydin said.

Rowling Hall, the new graduate school for the McCombs School of Business located at Guadalupe Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, is scheduled to open in spring 2018.

The enclosure for the Blanton Museum’s “Austin” by Ellsworth Kelly is scheduled to be completed in August. After that, construction will continue on the inside of the installation, a 2,715-square foot stone art piece located next to the Perry-Castañeda Library. 

The Engineering Education and Research Center at San Jacinto Boulevard and Dean Keeton Street will reach “substantial completion” by the end of July, and will be partially open in the fall.

Repairs to the west side of Bellmont Hall are underway and should be completed near the end of August. Renovations on the 1978 wing of Welch are scheduled to begin this summer, but no completion date has been set. 

Additionally, there are three main projects taking place in East Campus, on the other side of Interstate 35 near Disch-Faulk Field. Two of these projects, the Texas Tennis Center and the East Campus parking garage, will be partly completed by the fall. Construction on the graduate student housing complex may begin as early as August. 

Julie Potrykus, government and public relations junior, said there has always been construction taking place at some area of campus during her time at UT, so she’s become used to it.

“Although the construction may be chaotic or a nuisance, the results are creating something really beautiful on our campus,” Potrykus said. “Those little changes matter and increase the value of our community.”