Friday July 1, 2005
Technique - The South's Liveliest College NewspaperFocus

Following Master Plan, construction continues

By Jamie Howell/ Student Publications

Heavy machinery has been a common sight on campus lately with the renovations of Fifth Street and Ferst Drive underway.

By Joshua Cuneo Online Editor

If there's one thing students are used to seeing on campus, it's construction. Since the Master Plan was first put into effect in 1997, some part of the campus has been continuously under construction.

Maneuvering around these projects on a daily basis to get to class, there are two major questions that often run through the minds of students: "What is going on?" and "How long is this going to last?" The project's purpose is often unclear, and information about these projects, while available, is often scattered, out of date, or not easily accessible.

For those reasons, the Technique presents the following guide to construction projects currently in progress.

Name: The Fifth Street Improvements Project

Where: Fifth Street, from the intersection at Fifth and Techwood to the intersection at Fifth and Fowler.

What's Going On: Utilities work, mostly. Construction crews are installing new utilities beneath the road and are also moving the utility lines formerly mounted on telephone poles underground. There will also be some aesthetic improvements to the road once the utility work is finished.

The Fifth Street Improvements Project is part of an ongoing effort by Facilities to renovate all of Fifth Street and Ferst Drive to meet a specific design. The improved streets will feature bicycle paths, trees running down both sides and new sidewalks, among other things.

"Ferst [Drive] is the major vehicle as well as pedestrian route around campus, so [the construction] just brings in that part of the Master Plan," said Mike Patterson, director of Design and Construction within the Facilities Department.

The renovations will be completed in stages along with other construction projects occurring along that route. For example, when the newly renovated baseball stadium was erected, improvements along the part of the road by Russ Chandler Stadium were made.

The Klaus building, Nanotechnology Building, and other projects are expected to follow the same path.

Expected Completion Date: For Fifth Street, mid-August 2005, just in time for the arrival of students. Patterson said that some additional landscaping may still be underway at that time, but the road will be open to facilitate move-ins.

The entire Ferst Drive renovation depends on when money becomes available and when other Master Plan projects reach completion and make the changes feasible.

Name: The Klaus Advanced Computing Building (KACB)

Where: On Ferst Drive, across from the baseball stadium and the Biotechnology campus.

What's Going On: The Klaus building is a new facility designed to house research in computing and communications. The building's facilities will appeal primarily to research and graduate education and will include faculty from both the College of Computing and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

All structural requirements have been met, and construction crews have started enclosing the building.

Expected Completion Date: Mid-April 2006. The building should be fully operational in time for the 2006-2007 school year.

Name: The Molecular Science and Engineering Building

Where: On Atlantic Drive, behind the Biotechnology Building.

What's Going On: This will be the fourth and final building of the Biotechnology Campus, a collection of buildings that includes the Biotechnology Building, the Environmental Science and Technology Building, and the Biomedical Engineering Building.

The new building will house some classrooms but will be primarily dedicated to research involving the study of materials at the atomic and molecular levels.

The first floor slabs have been poured, and construction of the building's framework is continuing at a steady pace.

Expected Completion Date: On or around July 1, 2006.

Name: The Fifth Street Bridge

Where: The bridge leading into Technology Square, where Fifth Street passes over Interstate 75/85.

What's Going On: In an innovative move by the Department of Transportation, the Fifth Street bridge will be transformed into a green space overpass.

The expanded bridge will run approximately 250 feet wide and will feature turf, plants and trees on both sides of the road. The south side will also sport a trellis.

The bridge will be a continuation of many of the design elements of Technology Square and should integrate the Square more cleanly into the rest of campus.

"It's going to make a campus entrance off of Tech Square [and will] really make Tech Square even more a part of the campus," Patterson said.

Expected Completion Date: Fall 2006.

Name: Folk Renovation

Where: West Campus

What's Going On: Approximately every other year, the Department of Housing does a complete renovation of one of their buildings. The building is gutted and rebuilt to include new bathrooms, utilities, infrastructure, carpeting and other features. This year's building of choice is Folk, with Woodruff next on the list.

Expected Completion Date: July 22, 2005

None of these completion dates are absolute. All construction and renovation projects on campus are subject to funding and logistical concerns, as well as the successes of the Institute's Capital Campaign.

There are many other small-scale projects underway around campus as well, including building renovations and relocating labs and departments, but Patterson said these usually pass unnoticed.

Although Facilities has received several complaints about the construction, Patterson and Leslie M. Saunders, Sr., Director of Capital Planning, said that most students and faculty on campus understand that this is the price of progress.

"Construction projects will always be an inconvenience to those who are here now and a benefit to a later generation of students," Saunders said. "That's the way it works. It takes several years for a major project to be realized."

"I think we've made a tremendous change in Georgia Tech over the last 10 years with the building that we've been doing," Patterson said. "Some of the direction we're really trying to accomplish now is some of the landscaping and some of the circulation elements that go with the campus, and the more of those that start happening, the more you're going to see the campus really start to take form."