UB campus construction causes frustration
UB’s plan to revitalize all three campuses is a hassle for some students
Ethan Pray’s walk from his South Lake Village apartment to the Academic Spine got a bit more complicated this semester.
The junior accounting major’s commute to class used to just entail walking the path along the Center for Arts (CFA) and Lake LaSalle, but with campus construction blocking off the sidewalk and parts of the CFA, he now has to navigate around Alumni Arena.
“Now it’s a whole ordeal,” Pray said. “They need to do something about that.”
Construction signs, yellow caution tape and metal barricades blocking entrances and exits around campus puzzled and inconvenienced students returning to UB this fall. Construction has been ongoing on all three campuses, with both long and short-term projects in the works as part of the Heart of the Campus initiative. Although plans to revitalize the campus aim to create more learning spaces for students, construction has caused students great inconvenience.
UB Spokesperson John Della Contrada said the construction around campus is, in general, intended to create a better environment for students and most will finish for seniors this year to see.
The area between Founder’s Plaza near Capen Hall to the left side of Clemens Hall are also under construction. New sidewalks have been completed near the CFA and around Rensch Loop.
The block off of the sidewalk behind the CFA in particular has caused student frustration.
“I have to walk all the way around Alumni from South Lake to the Union and I am very disappointed,” Pray said.
Construction in the CFA will put in new skylights, allowing more natural light into the building. The Spectrum reported back in 2014 that the building’s renovations cost UB $1.4 million. The construction in Clemens Hall, however, is critical maintenance. The brick on the building’s face is being replaced and sidewalks, which were a tripping hazard, needed to be repaved.
While some students feel the construction is simply an aggravation when walking to class, others think the construction contributes to an unpleasant appearance of UB.
“It just makes the campus look ugly,” said Phillip Ojo, a senior mechanical engineering major. “I feel the school will still look like a warehouse. This looks too industrialized – it’s not how a typical campus should be.”
Della Contrada predicts some of the construction projects will be finished in 2016. Last year’s winter weather halted construction on the new downtown medical campus due to frozen ground but the project remained on schedule and was completed on time. He said UB hopes to have a solution for this upcoming winter by hiring a new planner for snow removal who will improve functionality on campus despite snow.
Although UB said it plans to wrap up construction soon, students have noticed the campus has been under the works for quite some time now.
“I feel that the construction in CFA has been going on too long,” said Sharneece Mars-Baptiste, a senior English major. “I’m OK with what’s going on but I feel it should finish up.”
Pinkie Davis, a junior Spanish major, recalls seeing the CFA under going renovations before she even attended the university.
“My oldest sister started her freshman year in either ’08 or ’09, and I remember seeing the building closed off,” Davis said. “I thought it was abandoned.”
As far as the construction on South Campus, the focus is to revitalize.
“On South [Campus], restoring green space and taking down temporary buildings is the plan for the projects,” Della Contrada said.
Renovations in Kapoor Hall have been recently completed, adding a more welcoming feel to the building. Hayes Hall, which has been closed to the public since 2011, has been under renovation to be modernized.
Some of the projects in Hayes Hall include building a loft in a formerly unused attic as well as an atrium and additional office space. The building will become the home of the School of Architecture and Planning as schools move to South Campus from North Campus in the next few years.
Of course one of UB’s largest projects is happening in downtown Buffalo. The UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is set to open in August 2017. The new school will total 628,000 square feet – the same as about 11 football fields.
“The construction does get in the way at times, but I feel that it’ll all be worth it when it’s all finished,” Davis said.
Ashley Inkumsah contributed reporting to this story.
Thanya Theogene is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org