Construction outside of Towers

Northwest Board of Regents approves a plan to update the mechanical system in Tower Suites residential building at a cost under $1.4 million. The university awarded a contract for the work to Lee Grover Construction, which was the lower bidder for the project.

Over the past few weeks, multiple construction zones could be spotted around Northwest's campus as the fall semester approaches an end.

Current projects consist of sidewalk repairs and those that take more time, like creating better airflow, heating and cooling in Tower Suites. After crews finish their work, Tower Suites residents should see increased airflow throughout the building, just in time for winter.

“One of those concerns whenever you build facilities is making sure you have a good amount of airflow that keeps things like mold and other concerns from happening,” said Mike Miller, Northwest's coordinator of residential education.

Miller said since the dorm was built in 2003, stagnant air has been a concern. Since then, the University has added attic fans to reduce this concern and are hoping this will be the final project for enhancing the building's airflow.

These improvements were supposed to be completed over the summer, but because of issues surrounding COVID-19, they got moved to September and are projected to be completed before students return for the upcoming spring semester.

Miller said Northwest didn’t want to do the construction while students are living in the dorms, but it is something that needs to be done for their safety. 

“We had a meeting on Sept. 4 before they started working to set some of those ground rules to maintain student sanity while it’s happening,” Miller said.

Some of these guidelines for the construction workers include following the residential quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight to 9 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Additionally, the crews are saving their major work for winter break.

“We’re allowing them to do prep work until then,” Miller said.

Major construction work will begin once students leave campus. The construction workers will have to go into every room to make connections with the current airflow system and the new one.

Miller said this had to wait until students were out of the dorms because of how invasive the process is.

It is not uncommon for faculty to enter students’ rooms during long breaks like winter break because this is when maintenance comes in to check fire alarms and pest control units complete routine work. 

To prepare for this, students should take anything of value back home with them during winter break if they are afraid somebody will interfere with it.

“They are kept an eye on,” Miller said. “It’s not like we just let anybody wander through the buildings.”

Miller said everybody who enters residence hall rooms are certified employees for Capital Programs, the company that every construction project on campus goes through.

Tower Suites Hall Director Nicole Canning said in an email sent out to all residents that for their safety, blinds and windows should be closed while the construction is going on.

Students who have any issues with noise should go to their resident assistant, and the problem will be dealt with from there.

Outside of the residence halls, minor construction was completed Nov. 16 on campus in order to fix the cracks in sidewalks.

“We felt the deteriorated conditions were important to be addressed this fall before snow and ice began to accumulate,” Director of Capital Programs Scott Kuhlemeyer said in an email.

Kuhlemeyer said the ice that comes with the winter weather would only make the sidewalk conditions worse and they want to ensure students are safe walking around campus.

Kuhlemeyer also added that there are numerous projects about to begin, including repairs along a small portion of the Joyce and Harvey White International Plaza, classroom upgrades at the Phyllis and Richard Leet Center for Children and Families and acoustical upgrades at the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building.

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