HSC project plan could lower costs

By Holly Schubert

Architects for the Holmes Student Center tower renovations are trying to reduce project costs by exploring alternatives for securing stone to the tower’s exterior wall.

Gerry Orr, an architect for Ware and Associates, the firm which originally designed the project, said, “We know of areas we can tackle in terms of cost reduction so we’re revising details and getting down to the bottom line. We’re in the middle of a process to reduce the cost to a reasonable figure.”

Orr said his firm is considering a prefabricated anchorage system which would bring renovation costs down. Originally, stone panels for the building’s exterior were to be hung on a steel frame at the construction site. This method was found to be too costly and was a significant factor in the bids coming in at more than $1 million over the $1,955,000 which the Board of Regents had approved for the project. The new method would have stainless steel anchors secured to the stone at the quarry rather than at the construction site, reducing costs significantly.

Another proposal to cut project costs down involves increasing the actual size of the stone panels. The original project called for five feet by three feet panels, but the new proposal would have 10 feet by 15 feet panels on the north and south sides of the building, and 10 feet by 11.5 feet on the east and west sides. Conrad Miller, NIU physical plant project manager, said the larger-sized panels would be one-half the thickness originally proposed, would weigh less, and would reduce the number of panels from 1,400 to about 235. This would lower costs by reducing the number of panels workers would have to fasten to the building.

However, Miller said NIU would have to look into buildings with this anchorage system already in use before the system could be used on the HSC tower.

Two kinds of stone are being considered for the project, valder stone and limestone. Of these two, valder stone is preferred because it is harder and denser. The tower has valder stone on it now which has withstood the weather well, said Orr. Both limestone and valder stone can be used with the prefabricated method.

The project was originally set to begin this fall, but the need to redesign the building will delay construction until at least spring, Miller said. He said NIU has not set any deadlines because the project no longer has its previous urgency for completion. He said it is getting too close to the winter to start construction.