Jan. 26, 2001
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Study revealing land-use history of Grounds
Hoping to hammer out building costs, board suggests study
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Hoping to hammer out building costs, board suggests study

By Rebecca Arrington

Construction costs and ensuring that Jeffersonian design continues to be part of the new buildings being planned on Grounds generated most of the discussion at a Board of Visitors' Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting Jan. 10.

Board members repeatedly questioned why the projects reviewed at the meeting seemed to have such high price tags compared to private sector construction.

Facilities Management Chief Robert Dillman said the University's construction costs are comparable to other institutions' building projects, and attributed the higher costs to several factors. The University builds its buildings to last for a longer time than most commercial buildings. Also, private outfits aren't hampered with myriad state regulations (instituted, ironically, to hold down costs and assure quality). "We're required by the state to have projects of $5 million and up be value-engineered," he said, which takes time and adds to the overall cost of the project. He also noted that labs are the most expensive spaces to construct. There's been an abundance of work for builders in the area, too, which in turn has driven bid estimates higher, he said.

The board suggested conducting a study to assure that the University is paying fair construction prices. Colette Sheehy, vice president for management and budget, noted that a similar review of U.Va.'s construction process was done five or six years ago. The board also approved seven capital budget amendments for the General Assembly to consider, chief among them were supplements for the Clark Hall renovation and addition, and the new studio art building.

The Clark Hall supplement ($5 million in general funds and $2.7 million in nongeneral funds) is needed to offset high bids and for rock excavation. It also incorporates a formerly separate chiller plant project into this project, Sheehy said.

The $3.5 million nongeneral fund supplement for the studio art building will be used for site development, digital arts labs and features that will support the future development of the Arts Precinct. The original $9 million building project is being funded by the state, although the Governor shifted it from a general fund project to a bond proposal in the budget he presented to the General Assembly.

"To minimize the budget [increase], we have reduced the building size [to 24,000 square feet] and modified its design to make it more efficient," said U.Va. Architect Samuel A. "Pete" Anderson III.

"Come as close to a Jeffersonian design as possible with this building," said board member William H. Goodwin Jr.

Despite expressing concerns about costs, the board also approved schematic designs for the Medical Research 6 building and an addition to the Aquatic & Fitness Center.

The MR6 building, to be funded with half general, half nongeneral monies, totaling $50 million, will be a state-of-the-art, 183,000-square-foot wet lab facility for the School of Medicine.

The Aquatic & Fitness Center addition -- a gymnasium that will include intramural basketball courts and an indoor running track and cost $8 million to build was part of the center's initial building plan, Anderson said. It will be paid for through bonds ($5.5 million), gifts ($2 million) and the remainder in auxiliary funds.


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