A $62.3 million renovation of Pierce Hall is nearing completion of its first phase while work on the second phase is underway.
The first phase improvements can be seen in the north and south wings, which now feature freshly painted hallways, brighter lighting, and modernized class and research laboratories.
The 114,000-square-foot facility, built in 1966, is one of the oldest on campus. The renovated facilities and installation of mechanical, electrical, heating/cooling ventilation, and plumbing upgrades will increase the efficiency of the building and replace equipment that had become harder to maintain, said Gerald Caraig, a senior project manager with the Office of Planning, Design and Construction.
First phase work began in 2019 with the north and south wings, which are now 95% complete. The second phase, concentrating on the center wing, began in February.
The first and second floors of the north wing saw extensive renovations with the interior concrete walls of former research labs demolished and new instructional labs built. One classroom laboratory is already in use by an instructor who made videos of experiments for his online chemistry class, Caraig said.
On the third floor, existing labs were remodeled to support low- to medium-intensity research.
The labs now include new fume hoods, television screens, case work lockers and drawers with chemical resistant epoxy tops, and electronic card operated door locks. Other improvements include a support room for lecturers and teaching assistants to prepare classroom material before their classes, a general assignment seminar room, and a remodeled chemical storage room.
A major element of the project is the replacement of old mechanical, electrical, heating/ventilation/air conditioning, and plumbing systems with more modern equipment. Fire alarm and sprinkler systems are also being updated. Those include equipment and fixtures in the basement that have been overhauled.
The center wing construction consists of installing new utilities, renovating restrooms, and adding new instructional labs on the first floor.
Much of the construction work was done while part of Pierce Hall was still in use for research and instruction. Crews worked night shifts to minimize disruption.
Since the campus closed in March, crews have been able to work normal shifts while the building has been mostly empty.
“It’s just made it that much easier for work to progress,” Caraig said.
The second phase of the project is expected to be completed by June 2021.