Before members of the Board of Trustees’ building and grounds committee Wednesday, Bruce Runberg, associate vice chancellor for facilities and planning, said the University’s investment in new building has remained steady for the past three years.
But the amount spent on projects continues to be lower than before the onset of the economic recession, he said, adding larger construction programs are tapering off and not being replaced due to the economy.
Since July 2010, UNC has completed seven building projects costing about $32 million. Fifteen projects are currently under construction and 30 others remain in the planning phase, though some officials said in November a Republican controlled N.C. General Assembly would be averse to capital projects, which are frequently debt-funded.
Wednesday’s meeting included a vote on the planning of a proposed $750,000 installation of fire sprinklers in Odum Village. The committee approved the selection of Charlotte-based Harrington Group Inc. as the designer.
Odum Village was built in the 1960s and does not currently have fire sprinklers, though they are otherwise up-to-date with fire codes, Runberg said.
“They’re not unsafe,” he said. “(There is) a big difference in safety from a high-rise to a two- story block building that’s already alarmed.”
He said the sprinklers need to be installed because the General Administration mandated that all residence halls have fire sprinklers by fall of 2012.
He said the University could avoid installing sprinklers if they got an exemption from the mandate or changed the buildings to non-residential use.
Ehringhaus Residence Hall, the last residence hall without fire sprinklers other than Odum Village, will be updated this summer. The combined price of it and fire safety updates for Craige Residence Hall is $5.2 million.
The largest upcoming project is the $250 million Imaging Research Building, which will be paid for by state funds. Planned since 2008, it will house the Biomedical Research Imaging Center and provide research space for scientists on campus. Its estimated completion date is January 2014.
Another ongoing project, the Kenan Stadium expansion, is estimated to finish in September of 2011 at a cost of $65 million.
Also discussed was the move of the Area Health Education Center program from Horace Williams Airport to a new hangar at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The move will be necessary after Horace Williams Airport closes for construction related to the Carolina North project, said Anna Wu, director of facilities planning.
“We’re moving med-air function to a new facility at RDU,” Wu said.
The Area Health Education Center is a national organization which provides medical education programs through academic institutions, including UNC.
But even with the slow-down of funding for capital projects, board member Wade Hargrove said the group’s primary objective is to use funds to maintain UNC’s academic quality.
“Members of the board are concerned with making sure the core academic mission of the University is not compromised in any way,” he said. “We hope there will be an end to cuts.”
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.