The Dundee Residence Hall is near completion on July 15, 2020.
(UCR/Stan Lim)

Though the campus closure has driven students home, UC Riverside has continued on many of its construction projects. There are currently eight active projects being built on campus: the Pierce Hall renovation, Student Success Center, the North District, Parking Structure 1, electrical infrastructure improvements, the off-campus UC Intellicenter, the Falkirk Apartments seismic improvements and the Watkins Lecture Hall renovation. 

The pandemic has affected the construction projects to varying degrees, explained Jacqueline Norman, the assistant vice chancellor of the Office of Planning, Budget & Administration and UCR’s campus architect. Construction crews and staff all had safety practices implemented; however, the progress and speed of the construction projects were affected the most. 

The next construction project to be completed will be Parking Structure 1. The parking structure is located at the existing Lot 13 and has expanded to include four levels and to accommodate close to 1,300 parking spaces. The structure will also contain over 100 electrical vehicle charging stations and bicycle parking. According to the department of Planning, Design & Construction, the projected time of completion is expected to be sometime this spring. 

The last two projects, the Pierce Hall renovations and the Student Success Center, are set to be completed this year during the summer. Pierce Hall will undergo renovations that will upgrade the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and it will also obtain replacements for the electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems

In some instances, construction progress was slowed a bit by material delays related to the pandemic, and in other instances, some projects were actually able to accelerate the pace of construction due to the campus closure, as the general contractors were able to work without concern for causing disruption that normally can be challenging when campus is open,” stated Norman.

The Student Success Center was one of the latter. Located in the center of the campus, the removal of student traffic helped in speeding up construction. In its latest construction update, the seating framing, electrical rough-ins, window glazing and ceiling grid are in progress.

Mihai Gavan, project manager for the Student Success Center construction project, stated in an interview with The Highlander, “It helped us … From a safety perspective, we didn’t have to look in all directions. It helped us focus a little bit more and bring equipment and materials faster in the core of campus at our sites.”The building will be completed by August 2021, before students return to campus in the fall. Gavan’s next construction project will be the School of Medicine Education Building 2. The 65,000 square feet facility will help in accommodating for the growing class sizes, which has increased to 125 students per class. The Design Build competition phase has since concluded, and the project received approval from the UC Board of Regents.