Monday, June 24, 2013

Spirit Way sidewalk along UAA Campus Bookstore exterior closed June 24 p.m., expected to re-open Friday, June 28 a.m.

Pedestrians can use the double-line path to continue east.
As Neeser Construction prepares to connect utilities on the new Engineering Industry Building (EIB), the sidewalk along the UAA Campus Bookstore will be temporarily closed from Monday afternoon, June 24, to Friday morning, June 28.

Pedestrians who leave the bookstore can travel east along Spirit Way for a short distance; they will be diverted to a fenced-in route through the construction work site, allowing them to connect again with Spirit Way as it approaches Providence Drive. The double blue lines in the graphic below illustrate the temporary route.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New construction update, June 19, 2013

UAA has an ongoing parking and traffic flow task force, aimed at bringing the best solutions forward as the university grows. That task force will meet throughout the summer and into the fall, and this blog will routinely include their construction and parking updates.

UPDATE: Engineering Industry Building (EIB)

Engineering Industry Building (EIB)
Project lead John Hanson's update:
  • Underground work (storm drains, electrical power, natural gas connections) are moving forward. 
  • Structural steel will start arriving in July and the building will start going up in early August.
  • Connecting water to the new building is not expected to require any water outages to surrounding buildings; if that changes we'll update you here.

UPDATE: Parking Squeeze - adding back spots

Work this summer will include adding 63 parking spots across Providence Drive on the north side of the Health Sciences Building. As HSB students and faculty are able to park closer to their destination, that will free up more spaces in UAA's parking lots on the north side of Providence Drive.

In addition, there is an unloved and unused parking lot on the busy north side of campus where most of UAA is located. That lot is called the North Parking Lot (see below) and it is directly behind Gordon Hartlieb Hall and the Auto Diesel Technology Building. It has been a frequent staging ground for UAA maintenance work, and is often, wrongly, thought to be off limits. It is available, and better yet, the UAA facilities department will be relocating much of its equipment out of this lot to free up 100 parking spaces there in time for fall semester.

North Parking Lot, behind Gordon Hartlieb Hall,  will be getting 100 more spaces.

The task force is also actively pursuing the best location for a new Seawolf Shuttle stop in the North Parking Lot, and also adding a Pay 'n' Park machine. More on both of those developments as the summer progresses.

The parking and traffic task force meets again on July 10. Feel free to post questions or parking ideas on this blog before then.

Coming soon will be updates on the Elmore Roundabout.  Currently, the Alaska DOT is reviewing UAA's plans. Once they give a green light, we will be able to share that plan here, including schematics of the roundabout.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Who was Beatrice McDonald, and what will BMH look like after its "re-do"? And finally, what's the story behind those big rocks in front of the building?

Patricia Baum of Facilities, Planning and Construction (FP&C) is the project manager overseeing the updating and major “re-do” of the Beatrice McDonald Hall (BMH) on the west side of campus, near the Cuddy Quad.  Now that all the departments have moved out, more hard work begins June 24. You’ll notice a fence go up around the building as work begins.

This aerial view of West Campus from May 1970.
Completed in 1970 for the original Anchorage Community College, BMH has long been home to Anthropology, Geology and College Preparatory and Development Studies  (CPDS).

An historical description of the building notes that it once housed foreign languages, vocational teacher education, human services and several science classrooms.

While Anthropology and Geology have relocated temporarily, CPDS’s move is permanent to the Professional Studies Building (PSB). Their departure makes room for the Alaska Natural Heritage Program (formerly located at 707 A Street) to move in when the building is completed in the fall of 2014, with first classes in the building planned for Spring 2015.  Anthropology and Geology will return.

UAA is being assisted on this project by Architects Alaska and Lake View Contracting. Here is an architect’s description of the building and the planned rejuvenation:

The Beatrice McDonald Hall is an existing two story building constructed in 1968 on the University of Alaska campus. The existing building has strong bones in the form of a repeating grid of concrete precast panels, but it has poor natural day lighting, and long, low corridors.

Light from glazed, double height space at building's midpoint.
It also lacks a gathering space for students outside of classrooms. The renovation of this structure will include opening up the interior by means of a glazed, double height space cut into the building at its midpoint.

This ‘slice of light’ will create a well-lit gathering space for students and will invite them to participate in more informal learning with other students and instructors outside of class.

Clusters of comfortable furniture will allow students to interact in small groups. The new gathering area will also include ten wall mounted, four foot by four foot resin panel light boxes that display images or photos connected to the study of nature and culture being carried out by resident faculty and students.
Another view of the "slice of light" atrium.
The influence of the new space will radiate out into the rest of the building by means of bright accent colors in the main corridors and the general replacement of existing finishes with more inviting materials and colors.

Goodbye asbestos
Construction 40 years ago included asbestos, and BMH has plenty of it. Renovation means  removing all of it. While that means workers will be basically gutting the building, Baum repeated that “BMH has good bones,” and the exterior will retain much of the look it has today, with one big exception: the sun-loving atrium that Baum and the architect have dubbed “a slice of light.” It pierces the building just off-center, adding illumination to a structure that has been dark inside for a very long time.

The building will receive substantial upgrades and changes in its architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical systems. It will contain 10 laboratories, an herbarium, a lecture hall and a student gathering space. In addition, there will be six general classrooms serving the university campus-wide.

Baum, as a designer of space, walked BMH and observed its hallways. She noticed students frequently slumped to the floor studying, finding no place but the ground to sit down.

The redesigned BMH will take care of that problem, she says. The new atrium will have clusters of seats allowing students to study in groups or just gather and relax.

Placement of back-lit botanical images.
1% for Art
A 1 Percent for Art call for work is out now for local photographers to provide 10-12 high resolution images of nature that will be mounted on light boxes illuminated from behind by LED lights. According to details provided in the Alaska State Council on the Arts call for work, the art committee is interested in macro photography, photographs of Alaskan plant life, botanical, aquatic or archaeological specimens, or photographs connected to the study of nature and culture from all regions of the state. Proposals for this artwork are due by June 28, 2013.

“We have a building filled with botanists, ecologists and scientists,” Baum said. “We want the art to reflect the nature of their work.”

Who was Beatrice McDonald?
Beatrice McDonald
It hardly seems appropriate to spend this much space talking about a building without reminding our audience who Beatrice McDonald was. The University of Alaska maintains an archive of notable people from all of its campuses. That’s where I found this picture of McDonald, and biographical details. She was an associate professor of office administration when the community college first opened in 1954 as a small adult evening school operating at West High.

A citation honoring her reads:

"Beatrice McDonald, who became the pillar of the school of business since the college was founded, and whose many students are now the competent career women of Anchorage."

After returning to Massachusetts for a master’s degree at Boston University, she returned to Alaska and revised the college’s two-year associate in arts program in office administration.  You can read more about her at her bio page on the UA site

About those big rocks
A story in the Anchorage Daily News from November 27, 1995 offers the history. They are 320 million to 360 million years old! They come from the Red Dog Mine area near Kotzebue, and a junior geology major surveying the mining site came up with the plan to save them and donate them to UAA:

Dan Stone was surveying for the Red Dog Mine near Kotzebue last year when he hatched a plan to save the two ancient rocks.

The black concretions -- compacted mineral masses -- had survived being blasted from a sedimentary rock bed the previous year at Red Dog, the state's largest mine. Mine operators kept them because of their unusual size and shapes, said Gary Coulter, a geologist with Cominco, which operates the lead and zinc mine.

Unlike the oval- and basketball-size concretions normally discovered at the mine, one of the desk-sized rocks is round and the other is peanut-shaped, Coulter said. Each weighs at least 1,400 pounds and is 320 million to 360 million years old, he said.

Last September, the mine decided to push the rocks over an embankment and out of the way.

That's when Stone offered an alternative: Donate them to University of Alaska Anchorage.

''First I called UAA's geology department to see if they were interested in taking them as donations,'' said Stone, a 40-year-old UAA junior studying geology.

''I said, 'Go ahead. It sounds wonderful,' '' recalled geology professor Anne Pasch.

After four months of finagling, Stone secured the rocks for the university. Company officials threw in a 3,200-pound chunk of zinc ore. If refined, the zinc -- which constitutes 18 percent of the chunk -- could be worth up to $25,000, Pasch said.

With Northern Air Cargo donating transportation worth $10,000, Stone had the rocks flown to Anchorage last December. They were kept in storage until three weeks ago.

Now the rocks are settled atop a bed of white granite east of the
Beatrice McDonald Building, the main site for geology classes. The Geology Club is working to get permanent plaques to describe them.

Unusual spectacles to the campus landscape, the quartz concretions are raising curiosity. Many students stand over them wondering what they are, Stone said. ''One guy even kicked the rock shaped like a ball to see if it was real.''

In addition, inquiries are pouring into the university's grounds department, according to grounds supervisor Pat Leary.

Pasch said the concretions make the campus more interesting and inform people about geology.

''It's part of educational outreach,'' she said. ''We'll use them for our own students, but we'll also use it for the general public.''

The rocks are the start of a geological garden the university has contemplated for the past 20 years, Pasch said. Ultimately, the garden will feature specimens from around the state.

Blocks of jade and old mining equipment would be nice, Stone said, or maybe the couch-size concretion found recently at the mine. ''Who knows,'' he said, ''getting the mine to donate that one may be my project for next year.''

Juneteenth event closes motorcycle parking briefly on June 18-19

Motorcycle parking outside WFSC closed from 5 p.m. June 18 through all day June 19

Motorcycle parking outside of the Wells Fargo Sports Complex will be unavailable after 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 18 and through Wednesday, June 19, because this space is utilized for food booths during UAA's annual Juneteenth celebration that takes place in this area.

With the construction in South Lot, motorcycle riders should please park in surrounding areas, including the Sports Lot, West Campus Central, or any other available space. Thank you for your consideration during the Juneteenth event, and join us for this annual fun day at UAA, including food, music and conversation outside on the grass.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Welcome to UAA's New Construction blog

Click on this map to see a larger version.
UAA is growing and changing, and sometimes that progress requires us to adjust routines to accommodate interim developments.

In this blog, we aim to provide easy access to information about what construction is happening on campus and the best way to navigate any disruptions.

You can subscribe to an RSS feed from the blog and then you'll automatically get email updates when new information is posted. Or, you are welcome to visit here and watch the construction unfold.

First, here is a graphic that lists all the current construction projects going on at UAA. We will focus on changes at the Anchorage campus. To download a copy of the PDF click here or click on the map to view a larger online version.


What's going on in front of WFSC?

Maybe you were too busy with finals and the end of school to catch the news about the new engineering building. Here is an update from early May that covers the new construction site in front of the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

New School of Engineering and Industry Building drawing.
On Friday, May 10,  Neeser Construction began using the South Parking Lot for construction of the new School of Engineering and Industry Building. You should expect to experience some delays in the normal course of parking near the Bookstore or WFSC Buildings.

Spirit Way will be closed (East-West) from the western building entrance of Wells Fargo Sports Complex to the eastern boundary of South Parking Lot.

Spirit Way (North-South) will remain open for access to the Bookstore, GSS and Student Union. The Wells Fargo Sports Complex and Tanaina Child Development Center can be accessed via Seawolf Drive.

Limited parking will be available on the west side of South Parking Lot; this will only be accessible via Seawolf Drive.

Employees are encouraged to park on the north side of Rasmuson Hall and the northwest side of the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

Be alert to new pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns. Heavy equipment and tractor-trailers will be frequenting the site, so please be aware of your surroundings.

For safety concerns related to this project, please contact John Hanson at UAA Facilities, Planning & Construction (907) 786-4900. Download a PDF of the information flyer here.