Campus offices pack up for new locations

Stacy Jo

With subdued fanfare, nearly 2,000 University employees are slowly but surely packing their bags for a major campus transplant.
But when familiar campus buildings begin to close down in June and University community members have to adjust to new digs, those discreet efforts will become much more apparent.
“The moving activity in June will be amazing around here,” said Orlyn Miller, senior planner for Facilities Management, in a Thursday presentation to the Board of Regents’ facilities committee.
A significant number of building construction and renovation projects, many slated to begin this summer, have forced University officials to play musical chairs with campus departments.
About one-third of the 1,900 employees who need to relocate have already moved to new accommodations. Another third will move in early summer, and the final group will change location in the fall.
In total, about 105 units, which accommodate 900,000 square feet of building space, will be transplanted over the next few months.
“This has really gone off with relatively flawless execution to date,” said Eric Kruse, vice president of University Services.
A significant amount of money — about $33 million — is being devoted to the project, but the bulk of that funding is not directed to temporary moving costs, said Mike Berthelsen, budget officer. Most of the dollars are devoted to making environmental upgrades and preparing for permanent relocations.
In fact, only 15 percent of the funding will be used to temporarily house employees and departments during the building projects. The other 85 percent of those dollars will be used to remodel space for more permanent accommodations.
Evacuating several of the North Mall buildings, including Walter Library, the Architecture building and Ford and Murphy halls, will change the face of this traffic-heavy area. Thirty-eight departments or sections of departments from this area will find new dwellings by fall; 17 of these have already moved.
The other primary relocation projects involve the University Gateway center, the Molecular & Cellular Biology building and Coffman Union.
Regent Patricia Spence asked where the 24 student organizations now housed in Coffman Union will be located.
Because the union renovations were only recently approved, planners are just beginning to look into where union inhabitants will reside, Berthelsen said. He added that while keeping the student organizations together is a priority, other units will need to shift before planners can accurately evaluate how much space is available for student groups.