University of Georgia Facilities Planning

Construction crews are a common sight on the University of Georgia campus in Athens. Since 1997, more than 200 buildings have been either renovated or added under a campus master plan that continues to guide the college’s brick and mortar future. Two major projects are under way, with two more planned in the near future, showing the university’s dedication to having an updated, long-lasting building stock, Campus Architect Danny Sniff says. “We don’t look for buildings that last up to 50 years, but really buildings that can last 100 years,” he adds. “We keep our master plan alive and refreshed, as opposed to it just being a pretty picture on the wall.”

Library Project

Work will soon begin on the Richard B. Russell’s Building for the Special Collections Libraries, a $68 million, 110,000-square-foot facility that will house rare books, maps, and other historic documents. The building will handle collections currently housed in temporary metal facilities that are located off-site due to insufficient room in the main university library, constructed in the 1940s.

Contractors Brasfield & Gorrie LLC will be the general contractor on the project. The concrete foundation will be poured in late Aug­ust, with the building set to be completed in Spring 2011, Sniff says. 

The centerpiece of the library is a 35-foot tool storage and shelving unit known as “The Cube,” which will keep all contents at a constant temperature of 59 degrees with low humidity.  Materials will be retrieved through the use of a motorized lift.

While the building itself is three stories, the height of The Cube will require the building to appear taller. The Cube will be partially underground, Sniff says. 

The university’s building design guidelines call for the building to be constructed with red brick in the Georgian architecture style, he adds.

Coliseum Upgrade

Construction will conclude this December on a $14 million renovation and upgrade to Stegeman Coliseum, the university’s 10,000-seat basketball and gymnastic athletic facility. The coliseum, built in the 1960s, does not currently meet modern fire codes set for a building of its capacity, Sniff says.

General Contractor Choate Construction started work in May 2009 on upgrading sprinkler and other fire prevention systems, renov­a­ting existing bathrooms, and adding 15,000 square feet of concourse area.

The concourse addition will be made of a glass curtain wall expected to complement the building’s glass hyperbolic paraboloid shape. The building was built in the 1960s. “We needed to be respectful of the architecture,” Sniff says. “We hope the addition will not detract from the structure while at the same time giving the facility a more modern feel.”

Future Projects

The university is in the planning stages of two future additions expected to greatly enhance its veterinary and health sciences programs. 

An architect will be chosen this August to design a projected $113 million College of Veterinary Medicine to be located two miles from the main university campus. The college will serve as a teaching hospital for students in both general veterinary medicine programs as well as numerous sub-specialties.

“The current veterinary hospital is 50,000-square-feet, was built 40 years ago, and is woefully undersized for the kind of laboratory research needed today,” Sniff says. “The new building is projected to be 280,000-square-feet and should carry them forward for many decades to come.”

Planning for a new veterinary facility started 10 years ago, with a formal study commissioned in 2006. Construction is projected to begin in 2011, he adds. 

Another major project in the university’s near future will commence once it takes possession of the former Navy Supply Corps School located in Athens by the Spring of 2011. This is a military facility that was designated for closure in 2005 as part of the U.S. Armed Forces Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The site includes more than 400,000 square feet of buildings that the university plans to reuse and adapt into new homes for the medical school under the partnership with the Medical College of Georgia and College of Public Health. 

The base’s location, while two miles from the main university campus, is located near the Athens Regional Medical Center. “Over the next ten years, this will be a very dynamic campus for construction,” Sniff adds.

High Quality

All building projects at the University of Georgia are built to a high standard of quality equivalent to LEED Silver status. In addition, the campus’ grounds are regularly upgraded and serve as outdoor classrooms for students studying botany, horticulture, landscape architecture or related programs, Sniff says.

In addition to instructional facilities, the university’s recent building projects include residence halls designed for sophomore, junior and senior students, as well as renovated graduate and married student housing. “In the last 10 years, one of the things we’ve done that is very student-oriented was to double our housing stock,” Sniff says.

Building projects are funded through a combination of state funding, private fundraising, and the university’s Real Estate Foundation, a 501c3 corporation set up to help finance projects through bonds and other forms of borrowing, Sniff says.

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