by Lee Hogan
Posted 3/24/2014 12:16 pm
Updated 9 months ago
Arkansas Tech University moved a step closer to a new multi-purpose building on its Russellville campus when its Board of Trustees on Thursday awarded an $11.6 million construction contract to CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock.
The $14.7 million project will house the university's academic, student support and administrative departments. Those departments handle financial aid, student accounts, registrar, payroll budget, human resources and two federally-funded programs, Upward Bound and Student Support Services.
Classrooms and conference rooms will also be located throughout the facility. Preliminary drawings showed seven classrooms and four conference/seminar rooms, according to Sam Strasner, director of university relations.
Construction on the four-story, 66,900-SF building is set to begin this spring on land previously occupied by Bryan Hall. That plot is near Rothwell Hall, home to the university's college of business.
"These two buildings will serve as a new front door to the campus," Strasner said. "This will be a landmark structure."
The project will take about two years. Strasner said no groundbreaking date has been set but that Tech would like the building to be open sometime in 2016.
Funding for the building will come from revenue bonds, physical plant funds, general improvement funds from the Arkansas Legislature and money received from the office of Gov. Mike Beebe.
Strasner said this construction will allow more room for students services like admissions, financial aid and student accounts, which are now in the Doc Bryan Student Services Center, built in 1998.
"At that time, we had a little more than 4,000 students," Strasner said. "Now, we have more than 11,000. Those areas need more space, and this also gives a chance to consolidate all student services under one roof."
In addition, public safety and health and wellness will move to the Doc Bryan Center, which "more aligns" the administrative structure, Strasner said.
The site of the facility is ready for construction since the Bryan Hall, constructed in the 1950s as a residence hall, was demolished last year.
Bryan Hall received a makeover of sorts to help it serve as an administrative facility, but Strasner said the renovations had "gone as far as it could." Early thoughts pointed toward an add-on to the Doc Bryan Center before the new facility was proposed.
"The opportunity to replace Bryan Hall with a more functional building was an attractive option," Strasner said.
Lower Estimate, Lower Cost
Thanks to the $11.6 million bid from CDI, the latest total cost estimate of the new facility was about $1.7 million less than the previously expected total cost of around $16.5 million.
The original budget had the building funded by $5.5 million in revenue bonds, $7.1 million in university physical plant funds, and about $4.5 million in appropriations from the Arkansas Legislature and the governor's office.
Strasner said the lower construction bid will result in a reduction in funds from one of the areas, but he said he was not sure which one at this time.
The lower construction bid was not due to anything being removed from the facility, but instead a "better than expected" bid, Strasner said.
Here's a breakdown of what each floor of the academic, student support and administrative facility will hold:
First floor — Admissions
Second floor — Student ID Card Office and Student Accounts
Third floor — Registrar, Upward Bound and Student Support Services
Fourth floor — Payroll Budget and Human Resources
Classrooms and conference rooms will also be located on each floor. Preliminary drawings showed seven classrooms and four conference/seminar rooms.