While the legislature gave St. Cloud State the go-ahead just last year, the university hasn’t been hesitant in beginning on one of its most ambitious projects yet.
Eastman Hall, the former athletic center is now boarded up with construction workers chipping away at the ancient bricks and boarding up all the windows.
“The whole scope of the project is to basically cut and gut the building,” said Phil Moessner “Not only in terms of infrastructure like plumbing and HVAC and things like that but also most of the walls and the flooring that’s been in there has been removed as well. ”
The University said its mission is to turn the former gym into a health center, where Health Services, U-Choose, and CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) are able to work under the same roof, making communication between the three, who rely on each other a lot, much easier.
However, the transformation isn’t something that can happen overnight, a lot of changes have to be made.
Moessner said the construction process is broken down into three phases:
1. Demolition: This is where workers will take apart the original interior of the building for restructuring.
2. Interior: After demolishment, workers will work to remodel the inside of the building to the specifications of the new facility
3. Exterior: When the structure is complete, amenities will be added to the outside of the property.
One of the major construction challenges the building faces is the addition of a third floor as the gym originally had only two levels.
“Obviously the way you use a building for a gymnasium with locker rooms and that sort of stuff is completely different than how you’re going to use that same space for a medical facility and research complex,” Moessner said.
Another issue they face is making sure that any dust or any other toxins are taken out of the building. According to the National Institute of Health, Sick Building Syndrome happens when hazardous toxins or air goes unnoticed, resulting in an increased amount of sickness, absenteeism, and lack of productivity.
Moessner mentions this is one of the biggest factors Facilities Management has to take into consideration during the restructuring process.
“The medical requirements are much different [for healthcare facilities] than they are for a gym,” he reiterated.
As the work continues, so does the enthusiasm and anticipation of those working in Student Health Services, since they’ve been located behind Hill Hall for 40 years, they’ve been looking for a change.
“Ohh my gosh it’s so exciting,” said Corrie Beckerman, Director of Student Health Services. “We are really excited to have a space that’s designed as a student health center.”
Construction will continue for quite some time, but the Unversity said Eastman is expected to open its doors for student use in the fall of 2019.