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Albertson Hall project is top priority to serve UWSP community

Albertson Hall, a hub of campus life and learning, has been a UW-Stevens Point priority for renovation for several years because of deteriorating mechanical systems. First occupied in 1971, it houses library resources, student support services and Information Technology data center.

During the pre-design phase of the project, architects discovered additional structural issues that significantly increased renovation costs. The estimated cost to repair the building exceeds 90% of the building's value, well above the 75% standard threshold used by UW System for renovation. As a result, the project shifted from renovation to reconstructing a new building on the same site.

"A new building allows us to live our value of sustainability through a more efficient, serviceable and longer-lasting structure to serve UW-Stevens Point students and employees for another 50 years and beyond," said Pratima Gandhi, vice chancellor for Business Affairs.

The building is safe to occupy, but critical conditions must be addressed for continued safety.

The fire suppression system has exceeded its engineered life and sustained much corrosion and leaking in recent years. Although the system receives regular inspection and annual certification, it must be replaced soon to assure continued safe operation, said Paul Hasler, Facility Services director.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is failing, among other issues, he said. "Although structural and building envelop concerns have been identified at Albertson Hall, the overall integrity of the building remains sound, and the building remains safe to occupy."   

The UW Board of Regents approved changing the project scope to reconstruction, one of several approvals needed to proceed. The governor's budget proposal includes $96 million for razing Albertson Hall and reconstructing. This month, the State Building Commission forwarded the project to the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee as part of the state biennial budgeting process. The Wisconsin Senate and Assembly will consider it this summer, followed by the governor. If the project continues to advance, site work would begin no sooner than the summer of 2022.

A new building will be at ground level, with ADA access and better wayfinding. People with mobility issues currently have difficulty entering the above-grade Albertson Hall.

Targeted for completion in early 2025, a new building will be smaller and more efficient. It will house existing library resources and academic support services as well as those currently in the Student Services Center.

During construction, services and resources in Albertson will be temporarily relocated. "Space for relocation has been made available thanks to extensive collaboration efforts on campus," said Allison Henke, campus planner. Relocation plans will be shared with students, faculty and staff as they are finalized.

"The new building will provide a transformative opportunity for our campus, allowing us to provide a future-focused library, deliver essential student services in a centralized location, and create a space planned around inclusive access and academic excellence," said Gretel Stock, dean of University College.

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