Undergrad expansion remains on schedule

Thomas Celona

Following a summer of construction, two new undergraduate facilities remain on target for their scheduled completion. The two main projects nearing completion are a new athletic facility and the new home of the College of Nursing.

“We have a lot of construction going on right now,” said Bob Morro, executive director for Facilities Management. “It’s unusual for us.”

Construction on the athletic facility is on schedule for a completion date of Oct. 1, Morro said. The project, managed by Nason Construction, Inc., did not encounter any snags over the summer months and maintains its initial end date. The new facility, located on North Ithan Avenue in front of the Pavilion, will contain identical practice facilities for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Additionally, the top floor of the building will serve as a fitness center open to all students.

Similarly, construction on the new nursing building continued according to plan over the summer.

“It is scheduled to be ready for the start of classes in fall 2008,” Morro said.

Construction will finish up early in the summer of 2008 so as to allow faculty and staff to set up the building for the start of classes in late August. The nursing school project is being managed by Torcon, Inc.

The new building will house the College of Nursing’s administrative offices, classrooms and labs, among other amenities.

In addition to these two undergraduate facilities, the School of Law is currently in the midst of expansion. The current project consists of a new parking structure and a new law school building. Both aspects of the projects are being managed by Gilbane Building Company.

Construction on the parking structure is now complete, Morro said. He anticipates that the 600-car facility will be open in the near future once the final touches are finished.

While there have been no snags in the construction processes of the undergraduate facilities and the parking structure, the same is not true of the new law school building. The proposal for the building has drawn complaints from several of Villanova’s neighbors, causing a halt in the construction schedule.

“The neighbors from Broughton Lane and County Line Road have problems with the law school,” Morro said, explaining how the neighbors are afraid construction will leave them looking at a “big, ugly building.”

Residents in the neighborhood near the proposed construction site have made a legal appeal to halt construction.

Their first appeal was denied by the Radnor Township Zoning Hearing Board in March. A second appeal has been filed and will go to the state level in Harrisburg.

The project is still scheduled to be completed for the start of classes for the fall 2009 semester, but the appeal complicates the schedule.

“Because of their appeal, we may not be able to meet that schedule,” Morro said. “We’re hoping to.”

This second appeal has the potential to have a major impact on both this individual construction project and future development of the University; The Villanovan will follow up on this story in future weeks.

All of these projects will be woven into the new Campus Master Plan which University President Rev. Peter Donohue introduced in his State of the University Address on Dec. 1, 2006.

Morro described the Campus Master Plan as a “blueprint for the future” that will give University officials a “high-level look at the long-term needs of the campus.”

In consultation with the architects of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, officials will critically evaluate how the University can develop on-campus land, conduct renovations and utilize current buildings in the most efficient manner over the next 25 years.

“It’s a tremendously exciting time to be at Villanova,” Morro said.