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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Board of Trustees approves multimillion-dollar campus public works projects

The Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 8 was cut short due to winter weather. // Photo by Cole Sandhofer

By Cole Sandhofer

Western’s Board of Trustees has approved university recommendations on three contracts for campus public works projects.

The projects, approved at the Friday, Feb. 8 meeting, include a new residence hall, a consolidated Academic Support Services facility and renovations to the Environmental Studies and Campus Services buildings. The meeting was shortened out of concern for worsening weather conditions and discussion items were deferred until a later trustees meeting.

The contract for the first phase of a new 400-bed university residence hall project was awarded to Lydig Construction from Spokane. The $2.07 million contract will go toward design and pre-construction services which are expected to continue into the summer. Phase 2 of the project is proposed to be submitted for board approval at their August meeting. The total budget for the project is $65 million, according to the project’s proposal.

Rick Benner, university architect and director of Facilities Development & Capital Budget, was brought before the board to briefly summarize key elements of the proposed projects.

“We’ve narrowed [the site location] down to two options on a particular site up in the Highland Hall area,” Benner said. According to Benner, a definitive location will be selected and submitted for approval within the next month.  

The board approved a contract to M.A. Mortenson Construction from Bellevue for $759,996 for the design and pre-construction of a consolidated Academic Support Services facility. According to the proposal, the project is intended to free up space on the academic core of campus by emptying classroom space now occupied by Academic Support Services facilities. The total budget for this project is $9.95 million.

Renovations to the Environmental Studies and Campus Services buildings were also approved by the board. The proposal states the goal of this multi-step project is to move non-academic programs out of the core of campus and create new active learning classrooms on the ground floor of the Environmental Studies Building prior to fall 2019. A follow-up project is scheduled to be brought to the board in August of this year that will convert the existing classrooms on the upper levels of the Environmental Studies Building into research labs and offices. The total budget for the project is $1,485,000.

All proposals were unanimously accepted by the board.

University President Sabah Randhawa gave brief updates on the recent damage to campus buildings caused by the inclement weather, which he said were under control.

Randhawa also addressed his ongoing communication with various student groups pertaining to urgent needs of diversity, equity and inclusion. Randhawa highlighted the web presence Western has created, which includes a list of completed major projects, those currently underway and ones to be addressed in response to needs put forth by the student groups.

“We have met over the past few weeks with a number of different student groups,” Randhawa said to the board. “We’ve had rich conversation … very productive conversation.”

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