By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer
A very tight time frame and the presence of in-ground obstructions were among the challenges surmounted in completing a new $15 million freshman residence hall and dining facility at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis. The building is named for Freeman Bosley Jr., St. Louis’s first African-American mayor.
As many as 200 students will be housed in the four-story, environmentally-conscious residence hall, which opened on August 19 after an 11-month fast-track construction process. The building features single- and double-bedroom suites including furnished living rooms, kitchenettes and private bathrooms.
Student residents will also have at their disposal quiet study rooms, a cardio-fitness area, laundry facility, community kitchen, 24-hour vending and a public safety office. Each floor features a lounge as well.
In addition, students will enjoy the amenities of the dining facility, offering seating for up to 300, along with a private meeting room and outdoor patio.
Along with its partners, St. Louis-based Kwame Building Group, a construction management firm providing estimating, scheduling, project planning, value engineering and other project management services, faced an array of hurdles in completing the project. “One of the biggest challenges was the firm schedule,” project manager Tony Simmons tells MHN. “Students needed to move in before the fall semester. We had a little over 11 months to go from zero to complete.”
To expedite the process, Kwame worked with the architects and owner to bid the project out in three packages. The first package was the structural build-out, the second the elevator, and the third the remainder of the facility, Simmons says. In addition, furnishings, fixtures and equipment were installed in each room as it was finished, while construction of the remainder of the building was ongoing.
The new residence hall was built on a site once occupied by the multi-building LaClede Town public housing complex, Simmons adds.
Though LaClede Town had been demolished years earlier, reminders of its existence were encountered in the earth. “We found some of the underground utilities, building foundations and other remnants of those structures when we were building the new building,” Simmons says. “We had to relocate some underground telecommunications cabling. We worked with the designers to change the building footprint, to accommodate an existing 20-inch water main.”
The more than 150-year-old Harris-Stowe State University had been a commuter college for all of its existence up until 2006. That’s when the Gillespie Resident Hall and Student Center, on which Kwame Building Group handled pre-construction and construction management, was opened.
“Five years ago, we managed the construction of the first dorm, and now have added this second dorm, to complete the original master plan,” Simmons says. “The new building eliminates for many students the challenge of having to travel, and creates a better living-learning environment.”