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Manning Hall's cupola gets an update

Construction for replacing the cupola that sits atop Manning Hall is underway.
Construction for replacing the cupola that sits atop Manning Hall is underway.

While it is not as well-known as other University institutions, UNC Facilities Services provides students with everything from recycling bins to building renovations on campus.

And the department tries to do so in an environmentally friendly, cost-efficient way.

Luke Hoff, director of the design and construction department in Facilities Services, said the department takes on more than 350 projects a year.

He said one of its current projects is the restoration of the cupola — a small, dome-like structure — that adorns Manning Hall, which is home to the School of Information and Library Science.

Gary Marchionini, dean of the School of Information and Library Sciences, said construction on the cupola was supposed to be completed by the end of the summer.

“We were hoping it would be done before classes began but I think all of the rain we had this summer made it stretch beyond,” he said.

Lou Buarotti, carpentry supervisor and construction manager for Facilities Services, said the project should be finished by the end of October.

Facilities Services, which employs roughly 1,000 people, plans and manages all the facilities and grounds projects on campus that cost less than $500,000.

Despite the wide range of projects the department is responsible for, Hoff said the department strives to keep projects eco-friendly.

“We incorporate sustainable materials,” he said.

“We have a task force, which specifically identifies materials that could be switched out for something more sustainable — for example, ceiling tiles made out of recycled materials.”

Hoff said Facilities Services has done its best to keep workers employed while trying to keep UNC an environmentally conscious campus.

“To minimize the potential of layoffs we (operate) just through attrition — if somebody decides to retire we don’t refill that position,” Hoff said.

“We haven’t had to lay off people in the past five years.”

Buarotti said the environmentally friendly options are more cost-efficient in most cases.

“We try to stick to sustainable products — locally grown lumber and stuff like that, formaldehyde-free PVC,” he said of construction materials for the cupola.

He said Facilities Services is also working on the new Alpine Bagel location in the Thurston Bowles building, a sound system renovation in the Student Union, a complete refurbishment of the Playmakers Theater and a renovation of the eighth-floor lounge in Davis Library.

“We’re working to better the environment from a teaching and learning standpoint for both the faculty and the students,” Hoff said. “I love helping people.”

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