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pacing the void

By Jason A. Vrtis
Arizona Summer Wildcat
June 18, 1997

Demolition Derby


Robert Henry Becker
Arizona Summer Wildcat

These boards, which were removed and then thrown off the roof of the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering building, mark the first part of the building's deconstruction begun June 12 by Avitia Demolition Company Inc. Once these salvageable materials are e xtracted from the infrastructure they can be resold, and the building will then be destroyed.

When students and faculty prepare for classes and work this summer they may want to consider complementing their outfits with a hard-hat.

To improve and renovate many of its facilities, the University of Arizona has begun to work on 17 different construction projects scheduled for completion this summer or at the beginning of the fall semester, said Ed Murray, assistant director of faciliti es, design and construction.

One of the major projects already under way is a $16 million addition to the Arizona Cancer Center to provide additional laboratory and office space, Murray said. The addition is expected to be completed in September.

The UA is also demolishing several older buildings to facilitate future growth.

The Avitia Demolition Company Inc. started the destruction of the Aeronautical building and the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Lab on June 12. The site of the Aeronautical building, located directly behind the Memorial Student Union, may be used for future Union expansion, said Joel Valdez, the UA's senior vice president for business affairs.

In 1994, the Joint Committee on Capital Review, within the Arizona Legislature, authorized the sale of bonds for the recently completed Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering building, 1130 N. Mountain Ave., on the condition that the two older buildings wou ld be demolished, Valdez said.

The Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Lab building, 1247 E. North Campus Drive, was built in 1917 and the Aeronautical building, 1302 E. North Campus Drive, was built in 1948. Both have been vacant since December.

After these buildings are leveled, Valdez said the site may be used as a temporary parking lot and might eventually be part of an expansion of the Student Union. But no plans have been finalized as UA administrators are still discussing ideas.

Valdez said the open space behind the Union is ideal for UA administrators' plans to build an addition to the Union.

"The area fell in nicely with our plans and it makes sense to build it there," Valdez said.

The plan has yet to be brought before the Arizona Board of Regents, but Valdez said UA administrators are planning an addition to the current Student Union, which would be set off by a covered mall area. In addition, the plan is to gut and renovate the ex isting building.

Valdez said the cost of the demolition is estimated at $300,000.

Avitia Demolition is under contract to demolish both buildings within 75 days, said Yolanda Avitia, president of the company.

Ruben Granados, Avitia's vice president, said much of the work is going to be done by hand because of the building's close proximity to the Student Union and the Second Street Garage.

The buildings will be demolished piece by piece by a track excavator with a clam bucket. The materials will then be loaded onto wheel loaders and hauled away, Granados said.

The workers are now salvaging materials from the two buildings and dismantling the roof structure of the Aeronautical building, in the process exposing asbestos, Avitia said. The building was originally two floors, with asbestos in the roofing - when a th ird was added the asbestos was sealed in. Avitia workers had to expose and handle the hazardous material, which was very time consuming, Granados said.

Under the terms of the contract with the UA, Yolanda Avitia will direct traffic on North Campus Drive during the first stages of the project.

"The traffic and the pedestrians make it more difficult for us," she said.

Avitia said the drivers of large trucks, which will haul away some of the materials, will have trouble seeing pedestrians and motorcycles in the area. She asked the UA's Parking and Transportation Services to relocate the motorcycle parking lot behind the Union, but that request was denied.

In other construction around campus, several buildings in the 1100, 1600 and 1800 blocks of Sixth Street will be demolished to provide new surface parking, Murray said. The old Loft Theater is one of the buildings scheduled for demolition.

"Our goal is to have them down and paved by the start of school," Murray said.

In an on-going project to bring campus buildings into compliance with the American Disabilities Act, bathrooms in four UA buildings are being renovated this summer, Murray said. The bathrooms in the Education and Administration buildings are expected to b e completed by July 6 and bathrooms in the Physics and Atmospheric Sciences and Nugent buildings are scheduled for completion by Sept. 7, he said.

Murray also said the UA has begun maintenance improvement work in the three on-campus parking structures. That work will be finished in October.

"They will be kept in operation but we will shut down certain areas at certain times," Murray said.

With all the construction taking place, students, faculty and staff are sure to be effected by the projects, but Murray said the summer is the perfect time to do it.

"There is less activity here during the summer so we like to do as much as we can," Murray said.

"Obviously it gets in the way a little bit, but we try to do our best to make it easy for folks on campus," he said.

To cut down on the nuisance and distraction of construction, Murray said a lot of the work is done in the early morning hours or in the late afternoon.

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