As always, OSU administration takes advantage of the summer break to get important work done around campus
By Jeff McCallister
Students and faculty returning to Ohio State after a summer away always are greeted by a slew of additions to the campus landscape.
“Our goal during the summer is to make as much progress as we can on projects that will cause an interruption of students’ everyday lives,” said Jay Kasey, vice president for Planning and Adminsistration. “The more we can accomplish over the summer months, the less distracted they will be by the disruption that can happen during construction.”
This summer’s construction projects, then, have provided improved living conditions and steady progress toward state-of-the-art research facilities.
But one of the most welcome sights to greet those returning to campus is the green of the South Oval. The hundreds of geothermal wells drilled there have been completed and are providing efficient heating and cooling to the new residence halls on South Campus.
“It’s not quite ready to have people walk on the grassy areas yet, but soon,” Kasey said. The sod was placed only within the last few weeks and will take a bit more time to fully take hold.
The completion of the South Oval geothermal wells project (the South Oval has been closed since construction began on the Ohio Union) is only one reason Kasey said he’s excited about South Campus.
“With the completion of the Smith-Steeb complex, all the high-rises are now done,” he said. “We’re very proud of that.”
Also nearing completion is the transformation of the former Enarson Hall into the new Hale Hall, which will be the home of the Hale Black Cultural Center and the offices of Outreach and Engagement and Diversity and Inclusion. The old Hale Hall was demolished to provide green space and more geothermal wells for South Campus.
Most of the building’s new residents have moved in, and there will be a ribbon-cutting celebration Sept. 20.
Another old building getting a new look is the centerpiece of Ohio State’s budding arts district — Sullivant Hall. Most of the changes that have taken place over the summer have been to the interior of the building, and though the entire project isn’t scheduled to finish until autumn 2014, some of its new inhabitants will begin moving in in November, and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum will open in the next couple of months as well.
“You can tell how nice a building that’s going to be,” Kasey said. “There are some inspiring spaces going in there — Dance is going to finally have a first-rate facility and the cartoon library and museum is going to be a destination that our community will be very proud of.”
Moving a little farther north, the Arps Garage is scheduled to reopen in September, and though the new chiller facility next door is still another year away from its completion, the roadway linking 18th Avenue to High Street will open soon.
Kasey said that link, along with a new traffic light at College Road and 12th Avenue, will significantly reduce traffic tie-ups that have frustrated motorists and pedestrians along those roads and sidewalks.
Another project with noticeable progress made over the summer is the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry (CBEC) Building, which now has its glass and steel outer shell in place over the administration part of the building. It’s on schedule for a 2015 opening.
The new James Cancer Hospital and critical care hospital building also has continued apace, and David Shuller, vice president for Medical Center Expansion, sounds every bit the proud papa as he talks of the progress and features of the building.
“Everyone involved in the project knows how important it is,” Schuller said. “Within a few short months, people are going to come here to fight for their lives.”
And right within sight is a different kind of construction project— the reshaping of the Olentangy River as it flows through campus.
The low-head dam that had been built at Fifth Avenue to provide campus water needs in the early part of the 20th century was demolished, lowering the water level by about 8 feet.
Construction crews have been reclaiming land around the banks for use as recreational and research space, and that transformation has been remarkable.
But of course, the work is never done. Kasey already is looking forward to the next projects in the hopper, including the much-anticipated North Residential District that will have its groundbreaking next week.
“The best part of watching all this happen is knowing that all of these elements were suggested by our Framwork Plan,” Kasey said. “We’re delivering on the promises the Framework made.”