By TAYLOR O’DELL
Construction work on the new University Center and the Woodard Campus Center/Mercer Hall project is continuing as planned despite the cold January temperatures. According to Richard Pearce, vice president for administration and finance at the University of Mary Washington, the heavy rainfall during the past fall semester has been the biggest weather constraint.
“Our main thrust for the last month has been to get the University Center closed in so that we can start working more on the interior,” said Pearce. “Right now, if you went in there, you would see cement floors, you would see studs in some places, and open ceilings.”
The University Center’s third floor will replace Seacobeck Hall as the main dining hall at UMW. Its upscale look will resemble a food court atmosphere surrounded by windows through which students can look down onto Ball Circle, over to Lee Hall or across the College Heights neighborhood. The installed skylights will allow a bright and naturally lit space.
“It will be a fabulous dining experience,” said Pearce.
Additionally, there will be two retail food outlets on the second floor. According to Pearce, the specific food vendors have not been selected yet.
“It will be cool once it’s done, but for right now it’s a lot of noise.” -Maureen Thoensen.
“We have been negotiating [the options] for about six months, but we haven’t signed any contracts yet,” said Pearce.
The University Center is scheduled to open in July 2015. According to Pearce, the final estimate lists construction costs for the project at $55 million.
Aside from the large construction site that can be seen on College Avenue, renovations are also being made to the Woodard Campus Center and Mercer Hall.
In order to build the new University Center, Chandler Hall was demolished. Chandler formerly housed the business and psychology departments. The Woodard Campus Center, where the Eagle’s Nest and on-campus mailroom are located, is scheduled to become the new home of the College of Business, which is currently located on the second floor of George Washington Hall.
Mercer Hall will become the new home of the psychology department, moving them from the temporary annex locations. Mercer will be completely renovated, and an addition will be added onto the building that will include new psychology labs. These renovations are scheduled to be completed around February or March of 2016 with the total expenditures at $15 million.
However, students have mixed feelings on current construction projects. Junior historic preservation major Sarah Clay can hear the banging and clashing of the construction sites while she works in the mailroom.
“It is sometimes difficult to talk to students over the loud construction noises,” explained Clay. “I’m not as excited about it because I’m not sure that [the business department] will be as accessible since [the mailroom] will be in the middle of everything.”
Freshman Maureen Thoensen shares a similar viewpoint.
“It will be cool once it’s done, but for right now it’s a lot of noise,” said Thoensen.
In regards to future construction work, the administration is in the planning phase of building an addition to the Jepson Science Center. This addition could take a few years or could be delayed, as the additional work on site will be funded by the state, which currently does not have the money to contribute. The Free Lance-Star reported last year that the renovations and additions to the Jepson Science Center will cost $32 million.