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Penrose remodel remains on track

Photo by: Ryan Lumpkin

DU is attempting to complete the exterior of the new Academic Commons by October to concur with the 2012 Presidential Debate, although no revisions have been made to the timeline or almost $32.5 million budget.

“We want it to look less like a disassembled shell and more like a new building,” said Nancy Allen, dean of the library. “The goal [by October] is to have the main entrance work [completed].”

Allen said there is no specific date when the demolition concluded and the actual building began because both happened simultaneously in different areas of the project. She also said the timeline has not changed and that DU hopes to have their certificate of occupancy by January 2013.

“Overall, the construction so far has been going smoothly,” said Allen. “We’ll need a couple months to move in the winter quarter, but I’m hesitant to say when we’ll be really open. We haven’t set any dates for the celebratory events.”

The Penrose construction project was originally estimated at $32 million, but exceeded the initial budget by $450,000 for a west-side addition. Chancellor Robert Coombe and the DU Board of Trustees approved the addition in early January.

So far, the framing process has begun on the lower level of the building, creating outlining tracks for the floor, ceiling and walls.

“We have started construction, and demolition is over,” said Allen. “But you never know, there still could be something that comes up.”

In addition, with the new atrium under construction, a hole in the center of the library roof is visible from the Mary Reed tower.

According to Allen, the current hole will not be a skylight. Instead, a lid will cover the raised roof addition with northern and eastern facing windows to provide natural light while avoiding glares.

Inside the construction zone in the Academic Commons building project, the early stages of the perched classroom are beginning to take shape. When completed, this research instruction and meeting space will appear to float in the atrium.

The room will feature curved walls of windows inviting observation of meetings taking place inside. The addition may also include teaching technology, such as a video wall, which Allen described as an array of flat panel monitors mounted together, arranged in various numbers and shapes. A similar display can be found in the Cable Center.

Allen said the next thing the library team is working on is generating a competitive bid to acquire technology, such as the flat panel monitor to be housed in group study rooms and audiovisual tools. The dean of the library mentioned the addition of an online study room reservation package she hopes will be implemented.

“We will create a way for students to see all the choices for group study rooms and locations in the Academic Commons building on the library’s website,” said Allen. “This could be a list of rooms, or it might even be a map showing the room choices. Students will then be able to make a room reservation online. There are various software packages that do that and we have no yet chosen one.”

The technology for the building will likely be bid late this summer.

Allen said another upcoming bid will be on the movable stacks. This steel-framed shelving will house the Penrose text collection once it is returned to campus from the Hampden Center.

“The bids for the movable shelving have been received and we will choose from among the bidders this week, probably,” said Allen.

According to Allen, the anticipated cost for this shelving could take up $1 million of the total budget.

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About Author: Gigi Sukin