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Construction updates help plan campus routes

Ever taken your normal route to class only to find a construction fence blocking your path? Ever drenched your business suit in sweat while trying to navigate a detour, eat a breakfast taco and make it to your 8 a.m. meeting on time?

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Ever taken your normal route to class only to find a construction fence blocking your path? Ever drenched your business suit in sweat while trying to navigate a detour, eat a breakfast taco and make it to your 8 a.m. meeting on time?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you’ve probably realized that The University of Texas at Austin is improving its facilities in some major ways, and planning ahead is crucial on campus.

To help students, faculty, staff and visitors find their way around all the fences and cranes, the university has created an online construction advisory page that displays maps of central-campus construction projects. Parking and Transportation Services also offers updates on its Web site about parking changes and traffic issues that may result form campus construction.

The Web sites listed at the end of this article provide details about construction on campus. Here is an update on the big projects going on around the university:

ATandT Executive Education and Conference Center
The university now houses a world-class residential learning environment known as the ATandT Executive Education and Conference Center. At Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South University Avenue, the center provides a space for conferences, seminars and continuing and executive education programs. The facility boasts unparalleled technology and conferencing amenities, 297 guest rooms and three restaurants that celebrated their grand openings on Aug. 28. Although the building is complete, the median along University Avenue is under construction and may create minor traffic delays in the area.

Biomedical Engineering Building South Wing
The main portion of the new Biomedical Engineering Building is complete on West Dean Keeton between University Avenue and Wichita Street, and construction of the south wing is underway. The main building now houses the Department of Biomedical Engineering, as well as College of Natural Sciences teaching labs and College of Pharmacy research space and offices. The building also has a convenient bridge to the Neural Molecular Science Building on its east side. The south wing will enhance this unified space of scientific study when it is complete in 2009. Pedestrian traffic should use the safety walkways along University Avenue between 24th Street and Dean Keeton, or seek alternate routes.

Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Expansion

The Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium recently expanded its north end zone to improve amenities and increase seating capacity to more than 90,000, including club and box seating. All concessions, seating and other fan services in the north end zone will be open for this year’s home football games. Some landscaping and paving work around the outside of the building and along the sidewalk of 23rd Street will be completed over the course of the football season. Football attendees should note that access through the northern-most gate of the stadium is limited, so fans should enter the stadium’s north end zone via Gate 8 and Gate 25 on game day.

Edgar A. Smith Building

Construction continues at the Edgar A. Smith Building on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Congress Avenue. The second part of the Blanton Museum of Art’s new complex, the building will house the museum café and store, classrooms, a large auditorium and museum offices. Safety fences are still up around the project, but construction is set to conclude before the end of 2008 and museum staff members hope to move into the building in October.

Experimental Science Building
The original Experimental Science Building, on West 24th Street between University Avenue and Speedway, is being demolished to make way for a modernized academic research facility. The new six-level building is slated for completion in fall 2010 and will house teaching labs and research space for neuroscience and chemistry. Demolition of the existing building should continue through Oct. 1. The sidewalk on the north side of 24th Street is closed in front of the construction site, so pedestrians should use the sidewalk on the other side of the street.

Performing Arts Center
After being closed more than a year for renovations, the Performing Arts Center is planning its first events for early 2009. The facility has been undergoing substantial fire and life-safety systems upgrades, as well as an expansion and modernization of the Bass Concert Hall lobby. Through this construction project, the interior of Bass Concert Hall will also gain improved acoustics and updated décor to better accommodate visitors and performers. The center is on track for completion late this year.

Student Activity Center
A new Student Activity Center is being built on Speedway, north of Gregory Gym and west of Steindam Hall. The center will house various student activities and include study areas, lounges, food-service areas, meeting rooms, classrooms, a black-box theater and student government offices. The two upper floors of the building will house a liberal arts component. The construction project is set for completion in fall 2010, and will enrich student life on campus and increase the amount of space available to the College of Liberal Arts. Fencing is being put up around the area, and the F-permit parking lot near the Gregory Gymnasium is closed.

Related Web sites: