Alumni wall now two months late, won’t be completed until spring

The Alumni Wall of Honor is being built near the McNamara alumni center.

Officials overseeing construction for the 260-foot-long wall project near the McNamara alumni center said the project will not be finished until spring. It was originally slated to be completed by November 2004.

Built for an estimated cost of $2 million and paid for by private donations, the Alumni Wall of Honor’s construction began in August.

Jim Heinz, alumni center general manager, said project delays have been slowed for several reasons.

“It’s an original piece of art that became more complicated to build than anticipated,” Heinz said.

The commemorative wall, stretching from the alumni center to the corner of Oak Street Southeast and Washington Avenue Southeast, will feature the names of approximately 1,000 alumni who have received Outstanding Achievement Awards.

Extremely cold temperatures caused building materials to contract and expand, making precise measurements difficult to align, Heinz said.

Tom Lasalle, a project representative, said the delay will not increase overall costs of the Gateway Plaza landmark and he is not worried about the delay.

“Extra construction time is immaterial. Rushing the project would compromise safety,” he said. “The monument was difficult to build and much safer to assemble on the floor in a controlled environment.”

The 260-foot wall’s frame is fully assembled, Heinz said.

The crew is carefully positioning and welding steel-plate sections. Next, officials said, they will beadblast the wall’s exterior, a technique similar to sandblasting, which will produce a consistent overall color and texture. Once the wall is enclosed, electrical work inside will begin.

Sidewalks around the wall will reopen in spring as remaining landscape work is finished.

The Board of Regents unanimously approved the project in December 2003. The University Gateway Corporation fully funded the project.