Parsons to be complete by January

After working since 2009, ‘closing in on completion’

By Phoebe McPherson
On November 16, 2012

Walking up Arts Way or down McDaniel Drive any hour of the day brings the same sounds from Parsons Hall: banging of hammers, searing of power tools, and the roaring of engines. By late December, though, all of these sounds will be gone.

Since 2009, Parsons Hall has been under hefty renovations as part of the Knowledge Education Economy Program (KEEP). The program's funding allowed for the four College of Engineering and Physical Sciences buildings to sustain significant renovations.  Parsons Hall was the last building to undergo changes. As the semester winds down, so will the construction.

"We're closing in on the completion," said Dr. Charles Zercher, chairman of the chemistry department.
According to him, the final phase is on, if not ahead, of schedule.

In the beginning of the KEEP initiative on campus, chemistry professor Art Greenburg played a large role. He was the dean of CEPS from 2000-2005 and chaired the Parsons Hall Renovation Committee. But in recent times, the team of Zercher and chemistry department Manager Cindi Rohwer has spearheaded the closeout of the renovation.

"Over the past two years, they have really done virtually all of the work," he said.

The renovation was completed in multiple phases, according to the different wings of the building. The last to be renovated was the southwest wing. Included in this final stage is a courtyard area that will face the intersection of Arts Way and McDaniel Drive.  

"It will be a very nice new entrance with a courtyard, flowers [and] picnic tables," Zercher said.   
Some building-wide features include the addition of a new water system that chills water and the replacement of a new HVAC system. The water system is another step in the direction of environmentalism.

"It's a chilled water loop," Zercher said. "So, we're not wasting water."

HVAC systems have experienced a complete overhaul, giving all occupants a cleaner air quality while in Parsons.

"Air quality is so much better than it used to be," Zercher said.

Zercher was able to move straight into his new office in the West Wing, but others weren't so lucky.

"Some of us have been out for ... approximately two years," he said.

Those faculty members who have yet to move back into offices are either displaced out in the North Wings, "jump spaces," or are in "swing space" around campus. Those buildings include Spaulding Hall, Hewitt Annex and Nesmith Hall.

"Everyone will be in their new space and it will just be touch-ups," Zercher said.

Both faculty members are thoroughly pleased with the results and the work effort behind it.

"[It was] a terrific team to work with. The construction team was terrific," he said. According to him, the chemistry department worked hard, too.

"Through the entirety of the renovations, the chemistry department has been able to continue on without a lapse in class time. We have not missed any classes during this entire renovation," Rohwer said. "We've all just kept plugging along."

The final budget is still up in the air, and an official number for total cost will come out around March 2013.

The chemistry department is in the process of organizing a rededication for Parsons Hall, tentatively scheduled for late May. It would feature seminars, poster projects and historic presentations.

"I enjoy the fact that I'm doing something that will make a huge difference and will have an impact for years to come," Zercher said.

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