The final piece of steel in the University of Alaska Anchorage’s new engineering building was put into place today. It marks the beginning of the end for a decade of vast expansion at the university.
A light drizzle fell on the audience as a crane lifted the final piece to the top of the four-story structure.
The Christmas tree-clad beam, adorned with signatures of most of the onlookers slid smoothly into place with the help of a couple iron workers.
The new Engineering and Industry Building will provide some much needed space for a program that has expanded by 1,000 students since the year 2000.
According to Chris Turletes, the Associate Chancellor for Facilities and Campus Services at UAA, the $78 million building’s new labs and classrooms will be unusual.
“We[‘re] building the building with a theme of engineering on display,” Turletes said. “So, you’ll be able to see from other parts of the building what’s going on in the labs and what’s going on in some of the classrooms.”
The building is a piece of a three-part project which also includes renovating and updating the current engineering building and adding a parking garage.
This project is the latest – and likely last – in a busy decade of expansion at UAA, which has seen the expansion of the school’s library, the construction of the new Health Sciences Building, ConocoPhillips Science Building, the Alaska Airlines Sports Center and a few other projects.
But, with the school anticipating decreasing state funding in the future, the trend of expansion isn’t likely to continue.
“In general, I think it’s safe to say that we’re not going to be in a robust budget environment over the next few years,” UAA Chancellor Tom Case said. “So, right not the emphasis is on finishing up those things that have gotten started; do the deferred maintenance that we can because delaying deferred maintenance just adds to the problem in future years.”
Also on the docket are upgrades for the older buildings on campus – some of which are approaching the half century mark.
The Engineering and Industry building is expected to be complete before the start of the Fall 2015 semester.