University Hall construction begins

University Hall; UH; renovation

Construction on University Hall is expected to be complete in 2018. ­(Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

Perimeter construction fencing went up and walkway closures began around University Hall July 27 for a façade repair project to restore the building’s exterior.

Construction crews will repair damaged concrete, replace windows on the 28th floor with a new curtain wall system and reroof all of the gallery ledges on floors three through 28 for the project, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

The “multistep project” is “a process that should, at the end of the restoration work, return the building to its original appearance,” said William Bradford, assistant director of the Office for Capital Programs.

Over time, the building’s reinforcing steel has rusted, expanded and pushed off concrete. Crews will identify locations where concrete is missing, make repairs and apply a treatment to the concrete along with a weatherproof sealer that will stop future rusting. Reroofing, replacing windows and cleaning or repairing ledge drains will prevent water infiltration.

The last time major work was done on the building was about 10 years ago, when the main roof was replaced, but University Hall has never undergone a restoration to this extent, Bradford said.

F.H. Paschen is the general contractor and Berglund Construction is the university’s construction manager. RATIO Architects conducted the inspection and completed the plan for repairs of UH along with their technical consultants, Construction Technologies Laboratory group. The approximate construction budget is $20 million.

Fencing has already been placed around the building — to establish the construction staging area to the south and fall protection zones to the north, east and west — so that demolition of the areas with bad concrete can begin within the next month. The east-west walkway to the south of UH leading to the Behavioral Sciences Building will close soon and remain closed for the whole the project. Bicycle storage racks on the east side of the building next to the Port Center Café will be relocated to the west plaza.

The demolition will last through the winter if weather permits.

Treatment, patching and restoration of the concrete will happen in spring, but there’s no set timeline for when window replacing or roofing will take place.

Students, faculty, staff and visitors are advised to follow detour directions and proceed through work zones with caution.

And all of the reconstruction plans will be mindful of UIC’s peregrine falcon nesting site, too. Each spring, a falcon family builds a nest on a University Hall ledge.

“We’ve been working to understand what mating season is and what we need to do to protect [the falcons],” Bradford said. “The contractor has been directed that no work will take place within the area of the nest during the time that the falcons are there.”

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