By SUSAN JONES
One of the signature projects in Pitt’s Campus Master Plan — the new Recreation and Wellness Center — is still moving ahead, and one of the first visible signs happened this week.
Beginning May 3, protective fencing was installed around O’Hara Garage and the former Learning Research & Development Center building areas on O’Hara Street in preparation for those buildings to be demolished, which will continue through the summer. The new rec center is planned for that space. Staff from LRDC were relocated in January to the Murdoch Building on Forbes Avenue.
Pedestrian traffic is being redirected across the street, and motorists traveling toward DeSoto Street on O’Hara Street will share the lane with bicyclists.
The demolition of the two O’Hara Street buildings was originally supposed to start in May 2020, but the pandemic has caused a delay with many on-campus projects.
At a panel discussion on April 15, Owen Cooks, Pitt’s assistant vice chancellor for planning, design and real estate, said rising construction costs have caused the University to eliminate “a gym or two” in the new recreation center project and tweak the architecture to align with the budget, the Post-Gazette reported.
David DeJong, senior vice chancellor for Business & Operations, said this week, “We are nearly halfway through the Recreation and Wellness Center design process and continue to review plans to deliver a state-of-the-art wellness experience for Pitt community members at this new facility.”
Planning and design work also continues on the Victory Heights project, which would provide several new facilities for Pitt Athletics.
Enabling work on the hillside above Chevron Science Center began in November 2019. After a pause from March to July 2020, the project resumed and continued through the winter, and will still be going on this summer. The project is needed for essential infrastructure renovations and repairs, including power, chilled water and sewer lines. There also will be improvements to walking, biking and driving pathways.
Additional construction projects occurring this summer include Salk Hall renovations, the Alan Magee Scaife Hall addition and Langley Hall classroom and lobby renovations.
Building safety concierge access procedures will remain in place this summer, DeJong said, and be staffed with student employees and contracted safety professionals.
Earlier this semester, Provost Ann Cudd said that almost all classes this summer will be online, which may be something that continues even after the pandemic. “We learned last summer that by providing the summer session online, we were able to serve more students. … That gives people the flexibility to go back home, travel, whatever, and still take a course.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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