construction Sept. print

University construction crews spent the past year and a half completely revamping the upper two floors of Mullins library, which was last renovated in the 1990s. Crews opened up space by moving 1.5 million books offsite, allowing for more study spaces. Phase 2 of the construction project will include the renovation of the first two floors.

Students returning to the UofA this fall will likely notice several recent updates to campus. Construction projects including the renovation of Floors 3 and 4 of David W. Mullins Library drew to a close this summer, while others are still ongoing.

Phase of the Mullins Library Renewal Project began about 18 months ago, with the completion of an annex for the libraries built to store books during the process of revamping the top two floors.

The newly renovated third and fourth floors, which opened in August, comprise community study spaces and individual study rooms, with Level 4 intended as a minimal-noise area, according to the Mullins Library Renewal website. Other updates include lockers with temporary passwords, new water bottle refill stations and new individual gender neutral bathrooms.

Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, director of public relations for University Libraries, said she thinks the changes make Mullins a more welcoming and comfortable space.

“My favorite place is the third floor because the colors are more muted, the lights a little dimmer,” Lippard said.

Further library renovations are expected to be complete within the next five years, with the overhaul of Floors 1 and 2 next on the agenda, Lippard said. There is no set start date for Phase 2 of construction, but Mullins will remain open when it begins.

The dining hall formerly known as Brough Commons is another campus staple that received some revitalization over the summer. UA officials renamed the hall to 1021 Food Hall, after the building's address on West Dickson Street, said Andrew Lipson, Vice President of Operations at Chartwells.

The change comes after the UA System Board of Trustees voted in July to rename the building, which previously bore the name of former Arkansas Gov. Charles Brough, who played a major role in the Elaine Race Massacre of 1919.

The building also received an interior update with new food-themed murals added throughout the dining area. The murals’ artists included Chad Maupin, Jason Jones and Sasha “TigerSasha '' Rayevskiy.

The Chartwells team chose popular local artists to paint the murals because of their connections to the community of which the UofA is a part, Lipson said.

Crews will begin work this fall to create more courtyard seating outside 1021 Food Hall, said Breanna Lacy, communications coordinator for Facilities Management. The new additions are expected to be complete by the end of summer 2022.

Off the main UA campus, the new Grady E. Harvell Civil Engineering Research and Education Center, also known as the CEREC, opened in July. The center features a variety of laboratories and research testing facilities. It is located in the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, an area south of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd intended to accommodate future university expansion.

Several additional campus projects are set to be completed this school year.

Renovations to the area outside of Old Main began in February 2020 with the removal of the first 50 years of Senior Walk.

“It was deteriorating and crumbling,” Breanna Lacy, communications coordinator for facilities management, said, “They were really a safety hazard.”

Officials determined it would be best to move the sections, rather than leaving them to the elements until they were completely ruined, Lacy said. Construction began in July on a permanent exhibit on the ground floor of Old Main, where the salvaged pieces will be mounted and displayed with information about the history of the senior walk. The exhibit is expected to open in late October, Lacy said.

Finally, work continues on the Student Success Center, which has been under construction since September 2019 and will “be a one-stop shop for student support,” according to the center’s FAQ page. Officials are on schedule to open the center at the start of the spring semester, Lacy said.

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