Signing the steel was a groundbreaking deal

Zachary Staab
Assoc. News Editor

The bangs and clangs of construction work echoed throughout the quad, as MU faculty, staff and students gathered for the beam signing and groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 11, 2013. The ceremony marked the first phase of MU’s estimated 600,000 square-foot, 2,000 bed living-learning communities initiative.

Greg Blaze, left; Mike Callahan, second to left; President Anderson, third to left; Dr. Breaux, second to right; and other project managers shoveling the first piles of soil for the new dormitory project. Phase one is scheduled to be completed by the 2014 fall semester, capable of housing 709 students in two buildings.
Greg Blaze, left; Mike Callahan, second to left; President Anderson, third to left; Dr. Breaux, second to right; and other project managers shoveling the first piles of soil for the new dormitory project. Phase one is scheduled to be completed by the 2014 fall semester, capable of housing 709 students in two buildings.

Scheduled to be completed in time to accept students for the 2014 fall semester, phase one includes the completion of two buildings, capable of housing 709 students. A steel beam, to be used in phase one of the project, was on display at the ceremony; many in attendance signed the beam with black and gold sharpies.
After leaving his signature on the beam, David Morning, senior and early education major, said, “A piece of myself is going into the new building and I’m placing my personality into the possibilities of incoming students.”
A giant crane hovered above the construction site, swinging to and fro, as President Anderson and Dr. Aminta Breaux spoke to commemorate MU’s expansive project. “The message that we give to our students from the first day they arrive to the university is that learning opportunities are everywhere—in the classroom, on the campus and in the community,” said Dr. Aminta Breaux, vice president of student affairs. Tax exempt bonds, issued by Student Services, Inc. are being used to finance the project, which involves the construction of 267 single and double full suites and semi-suites, covering 188,272 square feet, in the project’s first phase.

Logan Kopp is signing the beam at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Logan Kopp is signing the beam at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Grateful to have worked with such “outstanding” project members, Dr. Breaux thanked all of the consultants “who went down this road with us,” speaking to Student Services, Ambling University Development Group, LLC managing the project and the development team, which includes Benchmark Construction and Lord, Aeck and Sargent Architects.
Greg Blaze, president of Ambling University Development Group, and Mike Callahan, Benchmark Construction president, also spoke at the commencement ceremony on behalf of their respective companies. “Benchmark Construction company is proud to have 476 staff members working on construction,” said Callahan, “and we are already three weeks ahead of schedule.”
President Anderson was the last speaker at the beam signing and groundbreaking ceremony. Pointing to a large sign hanging from the fence that surrounds the work-zone, Dr. Anderson acknowledged all the organizers listed thereon, calling all who helped part of a “team” for their combined efforts.

President Anderson points to the construction banner, giving thanks to the companies involved.
President Anderson points to the construction banner, giving thanks to the companies involved.

The first phase of construction boasts many notable features, including camera monitoring systems, a 150-person Great Room, which overlooks the South Quad, central gathering lounges with meeting rooms on each floor, laundry rooms, a community kitchen, and recreation rooms.
Hobbs Residence Hall will be taken down following the conclusion of the fall 2013 semester. Students assigned to Hobbs Hall for fall 2013 will be relocated to another domicile for spring. Relocated students will have priority in suite selections for the 2014-2015 academic year in the new community housing facility.