This summer marks a period of transition for the Cal Poly campus, with several highly anticipated large-scale construction projects slated to start immediately after finals week.
The Recreation Center expansion is a large, invasive project. With a budget of $71 million, it is a massive venture and construction is not predicted to be complete until June of 2012.
While actual construction will begin next fall, the temporary facility will be created this summer. The main gym will be closed from June 15 until Sept. 14. During this time it will be retrofitted to house the 10,000 square foot temporary facility. The entire Recreation Center will be shut down between Aug. 25 and Sept. 14 in order for all of the equipment to be moved into the temporary facility.
In addition, the University Union Plaza is being completely re-designed and the first phase of construction will begin on June 15 as well. University Union Advisory Board chair Carl Payne does not anticipate the entire plaza being finished until spring of 2010, but plans to have the bottom section of the plaza near Metro 19 finished by the time WOW starts.
The new plaza will be an improved space for students to congregate. The circular-shaped area will be more open and symmetrical than the current plaza. Some of the clunky stone steps will be removed and grassy areas will be implemented.
“We view the union and the plaza as an essential hub on campus,” Payne said. “We have a huge population that move in and out of the space, so we’re trying to look to them and then make changes accordingly and make it a more inviting space, with a softer feel.”
The UU plaza will be closed off during construction but there will still be access to all businesses, including Starbuck’s Coffee, El Corral Bookstore and Backstage Pizza. Business hours will not change. All of the second-floor balconies will not be affected and temporary walkways will be placed throughout the plaza.
Associated Students Inc. is trying to mitigate construction-related issues for both the expanded Recreation Center and the improved UU plaza, but realizes that construction can be frustrating and stressful for students.
“We at ASI understand it’s going to be difficult,” Payne said. “There’s always going to be some noise issues that will happen with construction. It will be an inconvenience for a period of time but we really hope (the students) understand and put up with the construction because we feel like the end product will benefit the campus both aesthetically and functionally for the students.”
“We are trying our best to educate the students and the campus community as to why we’re doing it and how the timing worked out,” Payne said. “We’re trying to make sure the students understand that this is a student-driven project.”
One area of concern is how the UU construction is going to affect UU Hour and the ASI concert series, which takes place on Thursdays at 11 a.m. According to Payne, the concerts will be scaled back but still take place in the Via Carta Mall, near Campus Market. Space in this area will also be reserved for club booths and sandwich boards.
ASI expects the new synthetic turf fields to be in use by July 1. These improved fields are replacing the three upper fields used for intramural sports, which were hard to maintain and caused numerous event cancellations due to poor playability.
ASI-driven projects account for only a portion of the construction happening on campus this summer. Phase two of the Poly Canyon Village construction will wrap up soon, completing the enormous 30-acre student housing project, which will provide 618 furnished rooms to 2700 continuing students.
According to Johan Uyttewaal, associate director of building design and construction at Cal Poly, The Anderson Pool is expected to be completed this June. The new stainless steel pool, located right outside Mott Gym, will have 19 lanes, 25-yards in length and eight 50-yard lanes. A 15 to 30 foot therapy pool is being installed as well.
Construction on the Sampson Strong-Tie Materials Demonstration Laboratory will begin this August. Construction Management students will use this laboratory, located right behind the newly completed Constructions Innovation Center. It is expected to be completed by July 2010.
The $124 million replacement of the Spider Building was supposed to begin this spring but is currently on hold pending budget release from the state, according to Uyttewaal. This enormous project will provide 185,800 square feet of space for lectures, laboratories and faculty offices. All equipment will be updated to fit modern industry trends.
The large amount of construction occurring this summer may seem overwhelming, but it is necessary for the projects to start soon.
“These projects are dependent on budget timing and on necessity required by the student body,” Uyttewaal said.
At times, construction will impede routes of transportation around campus. According to Uttewaal, South Perimeter Rd. will be closed to traffic as of Sept. 1, 2009. Bus routes will undergo changes starting in summer. Bus stops in front of the UU and Mott Gym will be closed on June 15. During the summer, students will be asked to catch the bus either at the Performing Arts Center or in front of the Graphic Arts building.
New bus stops will be created over summer as well. One will be located on Grand Ave. near the Perimeter Rd. intersection and another in front of Kennedy Library. The bus stop normally in front of the UU will be moved about 100 yards down the road and placed in front of The Avenue.
While campus projects are getting amped up this summer, Uyttewaal contends that a similar degree of construction has occurred in past years.
“Construction has been ongoing on the campus for the last 10 years with the construction of the new engineering buildings, the sports fields, the housing administration building, both housing projects (Cerro Vista and Poly Canon Village) and the student population has been very responsive, understanding and adaptable to these great enhancements.”