Student Center on Track Despite Setbacks

In late January, the Associated Students of UC Irvine legislative council passed Bill R 41-42 in response to concerns that the Student Center construction would go over budget and that amenities would need to be cut back as a result.
Compromises have since been made to keep the project within its budget, though floor plans have been altered and certain amenities have been sacrificed.
‘Initially the project came in over budget, after which a series of independent negotiations between UCI Design and Construction Services, Student Affairs and two competing contractors took place,’ said Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Daniel Dooros.
‘During these negotiations, compromises and design changes were made to bring the project within budget,’ Dooros said. ‘The main cost-cutting measures were reducing the depth of the four-story story building by eight feet, eliminating the finish work of the large multipurpose room and eliminating the ability to use the food facilities during construction. After these discussions the companies independently rebid the project, with the construction firm PCL being granted the contract.’
The Student Center project will be funded by an $89 quarterly student fee, which is double the current fee of $47.50 per quarter. The fee was approved in 2001 by a student vote, during which expansion of the Cross-Cultural Center was also approved. The new Student Center fee will not be collected until the project is completed.
Cost-related problems have not been the only obstacles faced during the construction.
‘As with any project of this magnitude, there have been a few challenges,’ Dooros said. ‘An unexpected steel strike at the company providing the steel slowed building by about 10 days and a few days were lost due to rain. But as you can tell by the recent flurry of building activity, we are moving ahead rapidly.’
The public is able to view the progress of the project on the Student Center Web site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A concern for some students is that if the Student Center does not open in spring 2007 as planned, they will never see it completed.
Anthony Pham, a third-year biological sciences major, does not know if he will be able to use the Student Center before he graduates from UCI.
‘I really hope that I can use the facility,’ Pham said. ‘I remember going to the Student Center between classes and simply relaxing there during my freshman year. It would be really nice to do so again before I graduate, especially since I am paying for it right now.’
Although Pham is not actually paying for the construction of the new Student Center, students are still paying a Student Center fee to pay off the construction of the old center.
The Student Center will increase in size by about 66 percent. There will be additional lounge and study areas for students, and meeting and conference rooms will nearly triple in size. In addition, there will be two inner food courts and a third food unit that will face Ring Road. Outdoor amenities will include a small performance stage and a courtyard.
According to Vivian Au, a second-year psychology major, the expansion and completion of the Student Center is a much-anticipated project.
‘I’m looking forward to it,’ Au said. ‘The expansion of the Student Center will accommodate a greater number of student activities. I don’t think that the changes from the original plan will negatively affect the students. I think now we’re just all waiting for the project to finish.’
According to Dooros, the Student Center construction is still expected to be finished by spring.