FAC reopens third floor, upgrades safety systems

AddThis

Construction has left campus walkways and entire floors of the Flawn Academic Center blocked off since summer 2009, and officials say the disruptions will not end until next July.

A construction crew is in the process of upgrading fire alarm and communication systems, as well as renovating the third and fourth floors to make room for new office space.

Between 25 and 40 construction workers are on site five days a week and at night to minimize noise and disruptions, said Bob Rawski, regional program manager for the UT System. He said there were some fire and safety improvements that they needed to make to bring the building up to code.

“The fire sprinklers, for instance, really dramatically improve the building for the occupants,” he said. “That was one of the drivers of the project and the other was to renovate those floors to make them more efficient
for use.”

According to the University’s construction advisory website, the project was initially slotted for completion in winter 2011.

The FAC is one of several buildings undergoing construction as part of an overall plan to update and improve the UT campus.

Rawski said much of the renovated space will be used to house several new vice presidents’ offices.

Patricia Clubb, vice president for University Operations, said factors such as school needs, faculty recruitment and student population are all taken into account to determine the timing of construction.

“Big capital projects take years to materialize,” she said. “Everything gets factored in so there’s no one thing that will put one project in front of another one.”

Clubb said small projects all over campus, such as the Tower, the communication, liberal arts and Hackerman buildings and the stadium are all individually funded.

“Every project has a funding profile, and there can be many different sources of funding that go into one project and each of them is built,” Clubb said.

The $22 million total cost for the FAC renovations came from three different sources, said Daniel Tovar, project manager for the FAC construction site. He said $20 million of the project’s funding came from interest on local funds and money distributed to the University but not designated for educational use.

The third floor of the FAC recently reopened to the public, but construction continues with renovation on the fourth floor.