Originally scheduled to begin summer 2004, Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez from UCI Student Affairs announced on April 23 that construction of the expanded UCI Student Center has been officially delayed until early 2005.
Formally announced last year with an elaborate showcase of concept artwork, the construction of the Student Center and improvements to the Cross-Cultural Center were approved by students in 2001.
The proposed expansion would nearly triple the amount of meeting and conference space currently available, increasing the size of the Student Center by 78 percent.
Realizing the rapid growth of the UCI campus and the increasing need for expanded facilities and services, students voted for an increased $89 student fee per quarter to support construction costs. This additional charge would apply to all students and would not be collected until the building’s completion. Critics of the expansion had pointed out, however, that the project is too expensive.
Although a dwindling UC budget has been to blame for the loss of various projects and student programs, Dan Dooros, interim executive director of auxiliary services for student affairs insists that funding issues are not the cause of the delay.
‘The beginning date for the Student Center expansion has been adjusted to early 2005 for a number of unforeseeable factors,’ Dooros said.
The sheer number of construction developments already in progress on campus and their constantly changing completion schedules are the primary reasons behind the Student Center delay.
‘The key driver is the number of other construction projects the campus has already undertaken and balancing the unexpected schedule changes of those projects with the Student Center,’ Dooros said.
Such interfering projects include the new California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology, which is approaching completion behind Engineering Gateway, and the Natural Sciences 2 building currently being built near the School of Biological Sciences.
Unfortunately for students this delay has also impacted the selection of an official contractor to undertake the Student Center construction.
‘A contractor has not yet been selected. Initial bids, however, should be completed and ready for review by mid to late May,’ Dooros said.
With no contractor waiting in the wings to initiate construction, official start and completion dates for the new Student Center have been left hazy and uncertain.
‘As it stands today, we should begin in early 2005,’ Dooros said. A contractor has not yet been selected, which will be a factor in determining the completion of the project.
‘The center is a design-build project so once we have selected a contractor we will be in a better position to determine the exact re-opening of the Student Center. We are looking forward to contractor selection because once completed we can get a better handle on dates,’ Dooros said.
When asked about their feelings on the subject, many students were not pleased.
‘It’s sad because many of the students who will experience the effects of the construction will not get to see the results until after they graduate,’ said Adele Joven, a second-year film studies major.
First-year economics major Daniel Santos echoed Joven’s sentiments while remaining critical of delays.
‘In these situations, dates get continuously postponed and extended until you no longer know when it will be done,’ Santos said.
However, the delayed construction has allowed the current services and meeting facilities offered by the Student Center to remain available until December 2004.