In October, the Ohio University Board of Trustees approved the restructuring of funds for multiple renovation projects taking place at The Ridges.
The Board originally approved $20,715,429 for the projects, which included $15,330,234 for the renovation of Buildings 13, 14 and 18; $2,764,330 for the Ridges parking lot, site improvements and the demolition of Building 20; and $2,620,865 for utilities decentralization and site preparation, according to The October Board of Trustees meeting agenda.
The amount shifted took $164,000 from the utilities decentralization project and $916,000 from the parking lot improvements and Building 20 demolition project. That allotted an additional $1,080,000 for the renovation of Buildings 13, 14 and 18.
The reason for the transition of those funds is because of what the construction business refers to as “unforeseen conditions,” Steve Woods, Chief Facilities Management Officer, said.
“We were trying to route some of the duct work around. We had to add some additional support elements in where we were doing floor penetrations, and that's additional costs that wasn't perceived as part of the design process,” Woods said. “So it's items like that. We had some utilities that were connected to other buildings at The Ridges that we needed to disconnect so the facility stands alone.”
Woods said the renovations are making way for new administrative locations.
“Where are administrative functions that are being moved out of spaces that are closer to the core campus to make room for academic units.” Woods said. “Folks that are currently assigned to the West Union Street office complex will be moved from there so that we can change that facility over to the Russ Research Opportunity Center.”
A completely new structure for either the Russ Research Opportunity Center or the administrative offices that currently reside in the West Union Street office complex would have cost the university upwards of $60 million, Woods said.
Additionally, OUPD will be relocating to The Ridges, according to a previous Post report.
Buildings 13, 14 and 18 require renovation because of the buildings’ historic construction. Some issues that are currently being addressed includes the abatement of lead based paint, the clearing of asbestos, replacement of windows and new paint throughout the space.
“We in general are approaching it from a minimalistic viewpoint, and by that I mean we want to do a renovation such that we maintain the historic characteristics of the buildings,” Woods said.
The importance of The Ridges’ preservation was also stated by Tom O’Grady, the director of development and outreach at the Southeast Ohio History Center.
“My greatest concerns are that … we do our utmost best to preserve the sense of place, that that was created up there,” O’Grady said. “The feeling of being up there is part of what was unique about it.”
The university feels that it is doing an adequate job maintaining the historical integrity of The Ridges.
“I think that what I view as the historical aspects of the building, we are doing a great job of maintaining,” Woods said.
Building 20 is being demolished to make way for a parking lot at The Ridges site.
The building is not part of the original, historical facility, but is a newer building, Woods said. The building was not functional to the campus perspective..
Other improvements include rerouting utilities and other site preparations.
The building is more likely to stay in a well cared for, protected condition when there are people interacting with it.
“When the building remains neglected for long periods of time, it gets tougher and tougher to rehabilitate it,” O’Grady said.
The importance of preserving The Ridges also relates back to preserving the identity that structures provide for both individuals and communities, O’Grady said.
“When we lose historic buildings … we're losing parts of ourselves,” O’Grady said.