Bidder found for education building

Story by Alex Zank

There is an apparent low bidder for the construction of the new education building, a process that took place on March 15.

Miron Construction, out of Neenah, will now enter into negotiations with the Division of State Facilities to enter a contract to build the new education building, according to a university news release. The bid was $30.83 million.

Assistant Chancellor for Facilities Mike Rindo said construction is set to begin on June 1 and the building is scheduled to be be open for classes by spring 2014.

This will be the first new building on campus fully funded through state tax dollars. The $44.5 million project was included in the 2011-2013 state budget.

The beginning of the construction process can already be seen on campus with many of the trees on the campus mall being cut down recently.

“(The tree removal) was something that had to be done,” Rindo said.

The next stages will require the campus mall to be shut down in the summer while the ground is being dug up to replace the steam pipes, Rindo said. The Campus School complex will be torn down to make way for the new education building.

Along with closing the campus mall for the summer, the temporary parking lot behind Zorn Arena will be gone completely as construction gets under way, Rindo said.

“Much of the parking that was associated with the former Davies Center will be replaced,” Rindo said. “This summer we’re resurfacing, redesigning and expanding the HFA lot. So we’ll have more parking spaces in (that) lot.”

Rindo said the new education building is needed for several reasons.

“The facilities we currently have in Brewer Hall and the campus school are horribly obsolete,” Rindo said, adding the buildings were constructed in 1952 and are not reflective of the quality of the university’s education department.

Junior education major Samara Gaitan said that right now the education department feels a bit fragmented since there is no one place all the classes are held.

“Personally, it (having an education building) would make me feel like I have a home,” Gaitan said. “I feel like everyone else has a building … they (education majors) would really appreciate that there would be more room to accommodate everyone and they don’t have to be dispersed.”

Gail Scukanec, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, said the classrooms being used in Brewer are very inefficient.

“The classrooms in these buildings are really poor classrooms,” Scukanec said. “We have classrooms that … the ceiling heights are short so you can’t do audio/visual the way you would want to.”

The new building will also provide more modern classrooms that will help accommodate larger class sizes and will better facilitate group-oriented discussions, Scukanec said.

Although excited about the new building, Gaitan did have some concerns with it, saying that it will look so different from the other buildings that it will really stick out. She’s also worried that the building’s location and size might take away from the natural beauty of lower campus.

But even with her minor concerns about the new building, Gaitan said she is excited overall for its construction and said she is upset she will be graduating before it opens.

“I’m envious that I won’t be able to enjoy it.”