By Lindsey Ziliak Kokomo Tribune
---- — Indiana University Kokomo will spend $14 million to renovate its main building for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The Indiana General Assembly approved funding for the upgrades, and the university’s board of trustees approved the project at its most recent meeting.
Preliminary work began last week. Bids for architects and designers have gone out as well.
The main building was constructed in 1965, becoming the first building on the university’s Washington Street campus. There haven’t been any updates to the building in about two decades.
Interim Chancellor Sue Sciame- Giesecke said the improvements are “critically” needed.
“It is where we do most of our business,” she said. “It’s where most of our classrooms are. To bring it up to the standards of today is essential.”
Contractors will upgrade the heating and cooling systems and electrical systems for the entire building, along with installing more energy-efficient windows and doors. There also will be some asbestos removal and replacement of ceilings and fixtures where the asbestos is removed.
“We’re going to be able to do some new things with our classrooms, too,” Sciame-Giesecke said.
The university is building a new mathematics lab, Mac computer lab and video production lab and is moving those classrooms from the basement to the second floor.
They’re being moved to a hallway that’s been empty for a decade. The interim chancellor said the campus started work on that hallway 10 years ago but never procured the money to finish it.
“We haven’t had the funding to put that back together until now,” she said. “Getting $14 million, we’ll be able to do quite a bit.”
The plans call for contractors to convert office space in the basement into additional classrooms to accommodate the university’s continuous growth.
That’s part of the reason the Mac lab and video production lab are being updated. The new media and video production programs are expanding.
“Both of those programs are growing by leaps and bounds,” Sciame-Giesecke said.
Right now, the main building is undergoing work to fix electrical issues. It will be closed for the next several weeks. All summer classes have been moved to other buildings. Offices have been moved as well.
“We’re sitting on top of each right now,” the interim chancellor said.
Those electrical issues will be fixed by the time fall classes start, though. None of the other upgrades will close the building, Sciame-Giesecke said.
“The challenge will be to renovate while we live in it,” she said.
The end result will be worth it, she said. Eventually, the campus will have an improved main building in addition to the new fitness center, which officially opens Sept. 18.
“We’re going to be transforming campus,” Sciame-Giesecke said.
Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8585 or at firstname.lastname@example.org