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July 26, 2012

Trustees committee OKs $32.8 million in projects

Renovations to the University Book Center, a wellness center in the freshman dorm being built at Fifth Avenue and University Place, and an expanded facility for Pitt-Johnstown’s nursing and health science program are among $32.8 million in Pitt construction and renovation projects on tap.

The Board of Trustees property and facilities committee in a July 13 meeting approved preliminary project development for the $9.43 million Book Center renovation project, which will reconfigure 40,000 feet of bookstore space in Holland Hall and will move the Copy Cat center to the bookstore’s lower level. Funding for the project will come from auxiliary reserves.

The updated bookstore, designed in part based on customer input, will include a café, wireless Internet access, a new stairway and elevator and a relocated entrance on Fifth Avenue near the entrance to the Schenley Quad. (See related story, this issue.)

In addition to updated display areas for textbooks, trade books, school supplies, gifts and clothing, a new sales and service area for digital technology will be added.

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems also will be upgraded. University officials said the bookstore has not had a major renovation since the space was acquired in the 1950s.


The property and facilities committee also approved preliminary project development for four other projects:

• An $11.87 million addition to UPJ’s Engineering and Science Building to accommodate the relocation and expansion of Pitt-Johnstown’s nursing and health science program. The two-story, 26,000-square-foot addition will include a nursing simulation lab, six teaching labs, classrooms and office and support space for the nursing, biology and chemistry programs.

The University is pursuing a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation for the facility.

Funding sources include $4 million in state funding, $4.34 million in educational and general (E&G) debt, $2.47 million in plant funds, $525,000 in gift funds, $300,000 in Johnstown Educational Foundation funds and $232,065 in auxiliary operations funds.

The annual operating cost, including debt service, is estimated at $414,423.

• A $3.74 million consolidation of the Student Health Service, the University Counseling Center and the student pharmacy in a new wellness center on the first and second floors of the freshman dorm at Fifth Avenue and University Place. Currently under construction, the residence hall is to open in fall 2013.

About 1,500 square feet on the first floor of the building will house the student pharmacy, which currently is in leased space in the Medical Arts Building.

The Student Health Service, which also currently is located in the Medical Arts Building, and the Counseling Center, which now is in the William Pitt Union, will move into 18,800 square feet of space on the new building’s second floor.

According to the property and facilities committee’s background documents, the move will enable the University to provide more comprehensive health-related services to students in a single location.

Pitt also will eliminate the cost of leasing space in the Medical Arts Building and will free space in the William Pitt Union for other student-related activities.

Project funding is being provided by provost reserve funds. No estimate of the annual operating cost was available.

• A $3.17 million project to upgrade the electrical vault substation at Scaife Hall. According to the committee’s background documents, the existing equipment is nearly 60 years old and is past its expected service life.

The upgrades are expected to improve efficiency, reliability and safety of the substation, which is the main power distribution point for Scaife and Thomas Detre halls and UPMC Presbyterian.

Project funding is made up of $2.09 million in UPMC funds, $982,700 in E&G debt and $95,100 in Senior Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences funds.

The annual operating cost, including debt service, is estimated at $63,926.

• A $4.59 million project to replace steam distribution and condensate return lines from the Carrillo Street Steam Plant to lower campus buildings.

The project includes 900 linear feet of steam line and condensate return line between the corner of Terrace and Lothrop streets and the corner of DeSoto and O’Hara streets.

The corroded 12-inch line will be replaced with a 20-inch line to allow for future campus growth.

Project funding is made up of $1.97 million in E&G debt, $1.1 million in Senior Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences funds and $1.52 million in UPMC funds. The annual operating cost is estimated at $128,185.


According to property and facilities committee documents, funding approval for preliminary project development is the first of two steps in the development approval process.

If the total project cost exceeds the estimates submitted in the initial step, the project must be resubmitted to the committee for approval before proceeding with design.

When the project cost is equal to or lower than what was submitted in the first step, project design will proceed and final approval will be obtained at the next property and facilities committee meeting.

In the case of major changes during the design process that increase the total project cost, the project must be resubmitted to the committee for additional funding approval.

The Board of Trustees has authorized the property and facilities committee to approve all University construction projects of more than $2 million and to report its actions to the budget committee to be included in the University’s operating and capital budgets.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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