Steel beams of the science connector building, part of the STEM building construction, were put up over the summer. Students returning to campus can now see the outline of what was once merely a digital rendering in a press release.
The project, titled STEM@DRAKE, will “integrate learning in science, technology, education, and math at the University,” according to the project’s web page.
Construction of the STEM buildings began with demolition in mid-February when the greenhouse between Olin and Harvey-Ingham was torn down. A new greenhouse will be located on the roof of the science connector building, according to the plan.
Bryan Michael, a contractor from general contracting firm PDC Partners, has been working with the university during the construction of the STEM project.
“I think right before school let off we were starting footings, so we had excavated everything out,” Michael said. “There was a big hole for the ‘connector building,’ and so we started footings.”
Concrete walls also went up over the summer, along with the steel beams that most passers-by will notice. Collier-Scripps is the other STEM building, which will house the School of Education, as well as mathematics and computer science classes, according to the STEM@Drake website.
The building, located near Olin Hall, is a few months behind the connector building in construction. This was done by design, according to Michael.
“Probably most of the interior finishes will be kind of January, February, March time frame for (the connector building),” Michael said. “And then Collier-Scripps is very similar to that, but STEM buildings see progress just offset a couple months.”
According to Michael, the steel frames for Collier-Scripps are expected to be put in place as soon as September. With winter only months away, Weitz, the construction company hired by Drake to complete the buildings, is hoping to finish the “outside envelope” before moving to the interior of the buildings.
“We’ll start seeing some of the exterior finishes going up now,” Michael said. “We’ll see steel studs coming up around the building. Once they get that up, they’ll start sheathing it and then start the brickwork.”
$52 million of the total $65 million, approved by the Drake Board of Trustees, is dedicated to the new facilities. This leaves the remaining $13 million to be used for renovations and construction costs in other STEM buildings such as Fitch and Olin Hall.
The estimated total cost of the construction has remained the same throughout the process thus far. As new buildings are added to Drake’s blueprint, the STEM project seems to have begun only months ago to some. However, the administration began considering adding an emphasis to STEM at theUniversity up to six years ago, according to Director of Operations and Support Services Jolene Schmidt. During those six years, the plans often shifted.
“That building kind of moved to a couple different locations when we were talking about it,” Schmidt said. “It was probably a year before (construction began) where (it was decided) ‘Hey, this is where we’re going to build these buildings’ and settled down. It’s a long process.”
The new occupational therapy program at Drake will be located in the previous bookstore location, across the street from the Forest Avenue McDonald’s. This was the most appropriate new location for the new program, according to Schmidt, due to its proximity to the other STEM buildings.
To learn more about the ongoing construction of STEM facilities, visit drake.edu/buildingstem. Michael and Schmidt also encourage those with inquiries about sidewalk closures or the project in general to email firstname.lastname@example.org.