Marquette Wire

Al construction soils Cobeen

Jackie Palank

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The $31 million price tag was not the only cost to build the Al McGuire Center. Design-builder Opus North had to take extra steps to ensure the safety of residents at nearby Cobeen Hall during construction of the 117,400 square foot athletic facility.

A few minor setbacks due to the close proximity of Cobeen had to be fixed. Aleisha Palaniuk, associate project manager for Opus, attributed the difficulties to the age of the residence hall.

“We had to take a lot of precaution because it is such an old, fragile building,” Palaniuk said. “We had to work around Cobeen and make sure that when we were excavating, we didn’t excavate too low below Cobeen’s footings in the soil.”

Construction began in July 2002. The digging crew’s first setback, contaminated soil from the approximately 15 tanks of low-level petroleum left over from a gas station that was formerly located there, was found right away, Palaniuk said. The soil was contaminated and had to be removed from the site.

The workers had to shut down a gas main that runs into the south side of Cobeen so they could work around it, Palaniuk said. This exposed the basement of the residence hall, and university officials decided to take advantage of the situation.

“It was a great opportunity for us to replace the old boiler in the basement of Cobeen,” said Rick Arcuri, associate dean for administration in the Office of Residence Life. “We had always wanted to take it out and we were able to do so with the exposed basement.”

Arcuri said that they were also able to clear space in the basement for storage of maintenance supplies, equipment, and parts.

Because the basement was exposed, a small amount of water seeped into Cobeen’s basement during the excavation of the Al McGuire Center construction site. This required that the building be re-waterproofed and cleaned up, Palaniuk said.

“The building has benefited in the long run from this,” said Kelly Behmer, Cobeen Hall director.

The Office of Residence life was initially concerned with construction coinciding with mid-terms and finals, Arcuri said. He acknowledged that Opus was accommodating students’ schedules by stopping construction during those times.

Opus’ Crisis Management procedure requires that an evacuation plan be established for Cobeen Hall. Precast concrete panels with layers of insulation had to be installed along the walls of the Center that faces the north side of Cobeen and is only six feet away, Palaniuk said. The installation schedule was pushed back and the panels were installed when students returned from vacation.

These panels are 30 feet tall and eight feet wide and the workers scheduled a time to install each panel so that no one was in certain rooms near the area during the time of installation.

Palaniuk said construction has continued smoothly. After women’s basketball practice kicks off in the Al McGuire Center on Oct. 1, the men’s basketball team will begin practice there on Oct. 15 and the facility will be open to the public in January 2004.

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