HSC renovations delayed until beginning August

By Holly Schubert

NIU Holmes Student Center renovations will be delayed until the end of summer because the university has extended the deadline for submitting work bids from June 17 to July 7.

Conrad Miller, NIU physical plant project manager, said contractors needed the extension because they did not have sufficient time to enter bids. He said the contractors were having difficulty evaluating the project because of its complexity.

After bids are received, proposed costs will be assessed. A bid then will be submitted for approval to the Board of Regents, he said.

Miller declined to estimate the cost of the project until bids are in and one is approved by the Regents because he said he doesn’t want to influence any of the bids.

He said, “The figures that have been tossed around are misleading. Dollar amounts do not represent what’s available for construction.

“We had great expectations to get the project underway in July. But because of the delay, my expectations are for the project to begin the first part of August, contingent on availability of materials,” Miller said. “It depends greatly on how soon the quarry can provide the stone.”

Miller said he thinks the entire project will be completed in April or May depending on weather elements. However, Miller hopes to have the enclosed area on top of the roof completed by wintertime. This area is a special problem because it collects and holds water where it can freeze and expand. “One of the greatest deterrents to completion is the winds,” he said.

The top of the HSC Tower will have a copper enclosure that will age and change color to complement the new stone, Miller said. “What I’m most excited about is that if there is enough money, we want to place ridge lighting around the copper enclosure. It’s maintenance-free and will illuminate the building,” he said.

Miller said the tower’s brick must all be removed and replaced with either limestone from Indiana or valderstone from southern Wisconsin. He said he would prefer using the valderstone but the decision will be made based on availablity of materials and final funding for the project.

The valderstone is more expensive and durable than the limestone or brick that currently is on the building, he said.

The windows of the HSC tower also will be replaced, but probably not until spring, Miller said. The new windows will be more energy-efficient and will have better insulation than the present windows.

The seal on the replacement windows also will be an improvement over the older ones. Miller said the hotel has received complaints from guests who said their windows whistled when the wind blew.

The fenced-off area west of the HSC tower will remain blocked to traffic and pedestrians throughout the construction, and might even have to be enlarged. “During the course of construction,” Miller said, “it’s conceivable that we might have to expand the (fenced-off) area. Safety is a number one priority.” He also said there will be a fire lane open at all times.

Because the student center is the focal point of the campus, and will be especially busy at the beginning of the fall semester with people purchasing books and supplies, there will be no construction on August 24, Miller said.

“I want to stress that we’re totally committed to making sure there is bus service for the students,” said Miller. The trucks for the construction area will not enter the site from Lucinda Avenue, but rather from the south side to prevent interference with the buses, he said.

“I feel confident that the university can repair the tower without interfering with bus service,” Dave Emerick, Student Association Mass Transit Board chairman, said. “I want to assure the students that the mass transit board and the administration are working closely together to make sure the service is available.”

The HSC Tower is under renovation because fragments of bricks from the outer wall began to deteriorate and fall off last year. Parts of bricks from the tower were found across the street, posing a safety hazard for pedestrians in the area.

Throughout the reconstruction, the student center building will remain in use, but floors will be evacuated when specific areas are under construction.