construction site

Construction contractors work near the Cockrell School of Engineering Thursday afternoon. A UT student reportedly disrupted a nearby construction site last Friday. 



Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

A UT student reportedly stole items from a construction site last week near the Cockrell School of Engineering. According to UTPD’s Campus Watch report, construction workers said the student ran through the site Friday and UTPD officers found a construction truck that had been disturbed. UTPD discovered the student blocks away with items believed to be from the truck.

Despite incidents like this one — which is still under investigation — the University routinely takes precautions to secure construction sites on campus.

The UT System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction oversees construction sites on campus. OFPC director Bob Rawski said most major construction projects are contracted by outside companies, which are responsible for enforcing safety and security requirements at their construction sites. 

“Our construction contractors by contract have care, custody and control of their construction sites,” Rawski said. “They are required to erect a fence around the entire perimeter of the site with locking gates and to monitor access into and out of the site.”

Despite incidents like the one at the site, Rawski said thefts are not common at construction sites on campus. 

“Our contractors have experienced some occasional thefts from their construction sites, but this has not been a pervasive problem,” Rawski said. 

According to Rawski, there are currently seven OFPC-managed major capital construction projects under construction at the University. Most of these projects are contracted by companies such as Hensel Phelps, which has worked on the San Jacinto Residence Hall, the Frank Erwin Center, and is currently involved in building the Dell Medical School. Hensel Phelps is also in charge of the construction site near the Chemical Petroleum Engineering Building, where the theft took place. 

Rawski said whether a project is contracted by an outside company depends on the project’s size and the construction techniques needed. 

“Major capital construction projects managed by OFPC are contracted through outside construction companies,” Rawski said. “Minor projects managed by campus groups, such as Project Management and Construction Services, may be done by outside contractors or by internal construction groups, depending on the size and nature of the work.”

UTPD spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said UTPD regularly patrols campus construction sites to try and prevent thefts.

“In general, the construction sites are University property and are part of UTPD’s regularly scheduled patrols,” Weldon said. “If criminal activity is witnessed or reported, UTPD responds and investigates as appropriate.”

The incident last Friday is still under investigation.

Wild Art

On Wednesday, two men were shot at a construction site at 1901 Rio Grande Street, according to Austin police. The construction site is marked with the red pin.

Two men were injured in a shooting around 11:45 a.m. at a construction site near the intersection of Rio Grande Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, according to Austin police. 

UT officials sent a University-wide announcement about the incident via email at 12:38 p.m. According to the statement, no one connected with the University was involved in the incident.

“There is no threat to campus as both the victim and the suspect are in custody,” officials said in the email.

Anna Sabana, APD public information officer, said the department received a disturbance call at 11:43 a.m. and both of the injuries were gunshot wounds. Sabana said no one else was hurt.

Both men were transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge. Hospital officials said they could not give updates on the men’s conditions.

Biology junior Cecilia Vichier-Guerre said she drove by the scene shortly after the shots were fired.

“My mom heard about it first, then we were driving together and we saw all of the cop cars around the area,” Vichier-Guerre said. “There were a lot, maybe like 10 cop cars … they really had it down.”

Vichier-Guerre, who lives at the French House Co-op, about one block away from where the shooting took place, said the incident did not affect her sense of safety.

“It doesn’t make me feel any less safe or anything,” Vichier-Guerre said.

Radio-television-film senior Ivan Ovalle said he was surprised when he received the university email notification about the shooting.

“It sounded like the wild west or something,” Ovalle said. “It’s really bizarre.”  

The shooting occurred at the construction site for the Pointe On Rio, a six-story student housing complex. The contractor, General Contractor Skyline Commercial, Inc. was not available for comment.

They Built This City

The construction site of the JW Marriot Convention Center Hotel on 2nd and Congress flows with undergoing work in downtown Austin on Monday afternoon.

Two construction workers walk alond Second Street toward Brazos Street in downtown Austin on Monday afternoon.


Carlos Quintana drills a piece of plywood at a construction site at the intersection of Third and Lavaca Street Thursday afternoon. 

Art in Translation: Construction on Congress

Jorge Galvan’s “This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation made with mixed media.
Jorge Galvan’s “This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation made with mixed media.

Hey, everyone! Back again, art in tow.

Walking into Mexic-Arte Museum on Congress Avenue and Fifth Street, I was immediately intrigued by the brightly colored graphic prints and eclectic, wall-mounted sculptures straight ahead as I walked into the exhibit. The show, “Thought Cloud,” features the work of 10 Texas-based contemporary artists, all under the age of 35, each expressing their own views on the human condition in the 21st century. I was looking at a bright, pinkish-lavender screen print depicting cartoon cats when I turned around and instantly locked eyes on an industrial installation piece.

What we’re looking at is a 2-D outline of a telephone pole decaled on the wall, whose wires reach upward, dangling three light bulbs in the air. On the ground, in front of this, are snippets of the lyrics to the classic American folk song “This Land is Your Land.” Each letter of the lyrics depicted in a different medium ranging from steel to copper wires to fiberglass — all of which are common materials found at a construction site.

“This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation by Jorge Galvan and is comprised of mixed media — that’s the official way of saying there are so many different materials that it would be tedious to list them all. But for this installation, Galvan used wire, light bulbs, various metal coils, steel, and glass, to name a few. On his info card, Galvan says his work expresses an inner struggle to not feel like an outsider in both his native Mexico and his life-long home, the United States.

The piece specifically reflects his experiences working with Project Row House, an art-based nonprofit organization in Houston’s third ward. Galvan was inspired by the juxtaposition of the inner city environment against the organization’s thriving arts scene.

This piece is a stand out because it takes all of the resources normally concealed in a finished building and creates beauty out of them. All of the mismatched parts seem to coexist and create something harmonious. Although it is not necessarily the smoothest or most refined piece, the sense of raw, unfinished exposure shows that the process of creating can be just as captivating ­­­­— in its own way — as a completed project. It’s somewhat enchanting in its imperfection.

Personally, I look at it and feel like it shows that you can find beauty in the parts of a sum, giving way for art to exist in the most unlikely of places, such as a construction site. If a building can be beautiful, why not the metallic coils that conduct its electricity? Why not the wood? Why not the cement foundation that supports it all? Why do wires have to be a tangled mess when instead they could be a wild, intertwined web of vines?

I challenge you all to find beauty in the underbelly of your lives. Where do you see it?

Until Wednesday!