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Renovation, addition set for ME building

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Renovation, addition set for ME building

ME Building Courtyard

The courtyard of the ME Building, used for volleyball games and a quiet retreat away from laboratories, will make way for a three-story addition. (36K JPG)

Mechanical Engineering Building

Parts of the ME Building date back to the early 1920s; the distinctive "sawtooth" section will be replaced by a major addition. (28K JPG)

The distinctive limestone blocks will stay, but virtually everything housed within them will change.

The Mechanical Engineering building is set for its first major overhaul in more than seven decades. And the oldest part of the building — named the "Sawtooth" after its distinctive jagged roofline — will be replaced by a three-story addition.

The additions and renovations of the Mechanical Engineering Building, which dates to 1931, will be financed by a combination of private and state funds. It will cost $33 million, with the state contributing $23 million and private donations the remaining $10 million.

Construction is slated to begin this fall in conjunction with the opening of the college's Engineering Centers Building, the Mechanical Engineering Building's new next-door neighbor.

"We are looking forward to our long-planned building renovation," said Neil Duffie, ME Department chairman. "When it is completed, our faculty, staff and students will have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, modern classrooms and updated office space."

The Mechanical Engineering Building was constructed in 1931 around an existing machine shop — the Sawtooth — that was built in 1921. There has been no major renovation of the facility since its construction. Many minor construction projects have made the building more functional. A major renovation has been needed for some time, but could not be undertaken because the college had no space to house the building's occupants during construction, says Dean Paul Peercy.

Three-story addition highlights renovation

To create a facility for 21st-century engineering in the pre-WWII building, plans call for tearing down the Sawtooth structure and replacing it with a three story addition. This will provide 35,000 assignable square feet and alleviate a space that's deficient for the current ME occupants: the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Department of Industrial Engineering, the Manufacturing Systems Engineering Program and the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory run by the Department of Engineering Physics.

Major remodeling and a new electrical and data infrastructure will enable the existing ME building to support modern research labs and classrooms. A new central HVAC system will replace the substandard, multiple mechanical systems currently serving the building. A new elevator will make all areas of the building accessible to the disabled. Currently, such accessibility is limited. (For example, the only elevator is a freight elevator that must be reached by passing through a restricted-area machine shop, and this elevator does not go to the basement or fourth floor.) A new main entryway will be created on Engineering Drive, facing the new Lot 17 parking ramp across the street.

The project will also enable better consolidation of the Department of Industrial Engineering. "Many of our research centers are located off campus because there's no space for them here," IE department chair Harry Steudel says. "We are losing opportunities for our faculty and students to interact with each other, especially across disciplines. Bringing them together in one facility will create a synergy within our research and education efforts that is very exciting."

The opening of the Engineering Centers Building helped spur the ME building renovation project, Peercy says. "The completion of the ECB will give us the key component we need to make the project happen: space." When the Centers Building is completed, part of it will be used to house occupants of the Mechanical Engineering Building who must move out during the renovation, he says.

"Timing is critical. The ME renovation absolutely could not occur without the space ECB will provide," he adds. "There simply isn't enough space elsewhere on the campus for the large number of people and labs that would be displaced."


ME News is published twice a year for alumni, students and friends of the ME department.

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Date last modified: Monday, 08-Jul-2002 10:18:00 CDT
Date created: 08-Jul-2002

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