A campus in transition
As a result of multiple construction projects occurring simultaneously, much of UW-Eau Claire’s lower campus will be closed off to students for the coming months; but, according to one university official, the current headache will definitely be worth it in the end.
Assistant Chancellor for Facilities Mike Rindo said the construction the university is seeing right now is just one part of a 20-year master plan Eau Claire is currently going through.
“(The master plan) was developed in a very collaborative process with faculty, staff, students and the community,” Rindo said. “We are following the master plan, and these (construction projects) are the start of a number of projects that the university hopes to undertake over the course of the next 10, 15, 20 years.”
Although Rindo has an eye toward the future, he still acknowledges the growing pains the university will face in the short-term in order to achieve the results of the decades-long master plan.
“I think the big disruption areas are going to be one of main entrances of the library is not open … the entrance to Phillips … and just being able to get to Davies is going to be a little bit difficult,” Rindo said.
Accompanied with the obvious obstacles impeding foot traffic around the campus mall are some alternative options that have opened up for students, according to Rindo.
“The wooden walkway from upper campus now is connected directly to Davies,” Rindo said. “When you come down the hill you can go between Katherine Thomas and Putnam on your way to Davies. You can get to Davies between McIntyre Library and Katherine Thomas on the sidewalk.”
Freshman Reece Pierson said that most of his routes remain largely unaffected by the
“It doesn’t seem like too much of a hassle,” Pierson said. “I’m sure it is for older students. But the biggest thing is when I first came here I had to walk all the way around it (the construction zone) to get to the Schneider building.”
Junior Chris Myers, who has classes in both Hibbard and Phillips Halls, said the new construction is
The route to get from Hibbard to Phillips has traditionally been a short one through the campus mall; now that the mall is closed off the time it takes to get between the two has increased.
Myers also said the walk from the new Davies Center to Phillips Hall has become longer as well.
Pierson said that he can see the end-product through the construction right now and that will make it worth the hassle.
“I’ve been around construction since I was little, my dad owns a construction company,” Pierson said. “It’s kind of a familiar sight and I can see the potential for what it’s going to be when it’s all done.”
Rindo said that over the next six months, especially as soon as the education building is enclosed, there will be a less obvious presence of the construction.
As the process continues, Rindo said the university’s priorities are to open more walkways in certain areas.
One of the first things Rindo said they want done are the steps behind the Old Library and Schofield Hall as well as construction of a path that connects the two buildings to Schneider. Another later goal will be to connect the middle footbridge to the aforementioned planned pathway so people can more easily commute from McIntyre to Davies.
Rindo stressed that students and staff need to be mindful that the university is in the presence of an active construction zone, and increased awareness of surroundings is important.
“We’re going to have a lot of heavy machinery going in and out of those (construction) sites,” Rindo said. “Everyone really needs to be alert as they go around the construction area … so don’t have your earbuds in and be texting at the same time.”