Sept. 27-Oct. 10, 2002
Back Issues
Aging buildings, gleaming visions factored into bond package
$6 million fund to bridge gaps
U.Va. attacking water crisis
Board approves preliminary plans for arena
Med Center board gets construction report

Bonds will help build on aspirations

Presidential Accolades
Africa Consortium to broaden health, humanities projects
Time form, earnings statement show off new look
To the point with Ann Hamrick
Off the Shelf -- recently published books by U.Va. faculty and staff
Blackford planning graceful exit as Quarterly editor
U.S. News ranks U.Va. No. 1 in “Best Values”
Women’s Center is recipient of the PIE award
Academic integrity topic of conference
Indigenous in black-and-white
Library offers rare glimpse into American history

Aging buildings, gleaming visions factored into bond package

The signs tell a story.

In Brooks Hall, where leaks and water damage are a constant problem, a sign outside a restroom reads: “Archival material is in the room below. DO NOT get water on the floor.”

In New Cabell Hall, the ceiling in one classroom is spotted with four pizza-size brown splotches from leaks. One looks fresh.

For Classroom Repair Please Dial 'Fixit" (3-4948)“For classroom repair, please dial ‘FIXIT’ 3-4948,” says a sign by the door.

There’s no sign outside an office in Cocke Hall. The space reeks of mildew, despite the rattle of a dehumidifier going full blast in the corner. Because of the conditions, the professor prefers to hang his hat at Alderman Library, said Joe Grasso, associate dean of planning and operations for the College of Arts & Sciences.

“Many faculty work at home because of the poor conditions,” Grasso said during a summertime tour of the facilities. That makes it more difficult for students to drop by and undercuts a sense of community among faculty.

Brooks, New Cabell and Cocke halls are not included in a Nov. 5 bond referendum that would provide $68.3 million for projects at U.Va. and $846 million for educational facilities around the state. But the plight of these and other buildings is symptomatic of why officials say the issue is so vital to U.Va. and other schools in the Commonwealth.

“Deferred maintenance has turned into a massive problem for the state,” said U.Va. President John T. Casteen III.

In a recent assessment of space needs for U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences, consultants concluded, “Antiquated building infrastructure, poor ventilation, limited electrical capacity and overcrowding interfere with instruction and create uncomfortable work environments for faculty and staff throughout the College.

“In the sciences and the fine and performing arts, many facilities are inadequate to support state-of-the-art technology and experimentation. The problems render some research and teaching laboratories and studios genuinely dysfunctional, a number of them dangerously so,” the assessment says.

Take a deep breath in the acrid darkroom of the photo lab in the basement of Fayerweather Hall. Take a long look at the grimy ceilings and rusted shelving in some biology labs in Gilmer Hall. They are signs themselves.

“If we want to maintain our position in American public higher education, we simply have no choice but to increase and improve the quality of the space in which we do our basic work,” said Edward L. Ayers, dean of the College.

Fayerweather and Gilmer will receive money if the referendum is approved. Fayerweather, originally a gymnasium built 105 years ago and now housing the McIntire Department of Art, would get $4.6 million for renovations. Gilmer, built in the 1960s, would receive $5.7 million to continue renovations under way.

Money in the bond referendum is far from meeting the University’s needs to maintain existing space and accommodate growth. But it is vital both in terms of supplying immediate dollars and generating private donations.

“State money is critical in leveraging private gifts,” said Grasso.

Consider the Medical Research 6 building, which is U.Va.’s top dollar item in the referendum. The total cost is $50 million, about $24.2 million of which would come through the bond issue. But $5 million of the remaining private money is contingent on state funding.

The promise of MR-6 is matched by two other building projects in the package —the nanotechnology and materials science and engineering building, and the South Lawn project. The latter represents a particularly bold vision, with terraced areas stepping below Old Cabell Hall in true Jeffersonian fashion. Such facilities would help attract top faculty and students and enhance the University’s competitive stature.

While maintaining an edge on the future is important, so is the need to keep up facilities maintenance. The bond issue includes $12.5 million to upgrade storm-water systems, “chillers” and other basic infrastructure.

“[We] have to have those projects … because without them, the buildings that are being built would not operate,” said Cheryl Gomez, director of utilities at Facilities Management.

Underlining the press of repairs, renovations, maintenance and modernizing, officials predict a bulge in attendance at state colleges and universities in coming years. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia projects 11 percent growth during the decade at public four-year universities. U.Va.’s growth rate from 1990 to 2005 pales in comparison at 6.1 percent, but growth is growth.

“Accommodating the projected enrollment growth would be nearly impossible with the College’s current facilities,” Grasso said.


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