By Lauren Huneycutt
The pounding of the jackhammer and beeping of the tractors has become the normal wake-up call for many of the students on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Those living in dorms surrounding the construction have learned to drown out the sounds.
The old Getchell Library had to come down. It was built over 50 years ago and has been sitting dormant on campus for the last five with out-of-date fire codes and plenty of asbestos.
“The original plan was to try and renovate Getchell,” said Scott Brown, Senior Project Manager in the Facility Services Department at UNR. “But to try and bring the building up to current codes was just not cost effective for the way that building was designed.”
So the building sat there, between the Ansari Business Building and Lincoln Hall, until a plan of action was decided and the funds to build something new were accrued.
The new building will be named the Pennington Student Achievement Center. The $46 million building has been funded primarily by donation and bonds, and that $46 million budget includes everything from demolition to furniture in the new building.
“I feel like it started on move-in day,” said Olivia Leader, a freshman living in the White Pine Hall. “We didn’t get any warning of what was coming.”
The re-routing of all of the utility wires and water lines in the Getchell Library began in September of 2013.
“Because of all the utility relocations, the demolition of the building actually takes three to four months,” Brown said. “There is usually an eleven month design period for new buildings, so we pulled the building down over winter break to prep the site and do the noisiest part when no one was here.”
Leader’s first semester of college was one filled with early mornings. With construction beginning promptly at 7 a.m., it was useless to try and sleep in.
“Last semester it was worse,” Leader said. “I always woke up to that jackhammer sound when I didn’t even start class until 11.”
As of now, the demolition workers are roughly two weeks away from having the entire site cleared and ready for the start of the construction, which is planned to begin July 7. The lot will sit dormant for several months.
“We put a lot of information out in advance to warn students and faculty about what was coming,” Brown said. “We’ve done the best we could at minimizing the inconvenience.”
The efforts of Facilities Services to make this project convenient are not unnoticed. They have provided many emails, made multiple pathways around the construction site and created a live camera feed of the demolition zone, which is available online.
However, freshmen are new at attaining campus information, and applying to live in the dorms and enrolling for classes has a deadline of mid-June. Many freshmen applied for on-campus living with out knowing about the campus renovations. They did not have the warnings of construction as readily available as existing students and staff did.
“My roommates and I talk about the construction a lot,” Leader said. “It’s all being done while we’re living here. I think if I had known the extent of the construction, I would have requested to live elsewhere.”
Leader and her roommates have learned to make do. Leader does her homework in her room and plays music to drown out the sound of the construction. This semester, the early mornings have not been an issue, since she attends an 8 a.m. class.
“Upper administration and President Johnson came together with a vision of what would best benefit students,” said Brown. “Ten departments are moving into the Student Achievement Center (SAC). It is a unique building that is hopefully going to enhance student learning capabilities.”
Construction is a Catch-22. There is always inconvenience when creating something bigger, modern and beautiful. Leader was one of many students having to endure the inconvenient side of this new structure more so than others.
“I am excited to see what it looks like,” Leader said. “I want to see what all the fuss is about.”