Construction of the UPMC Events Center is underway

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Construction of the UPMC Events Center is underway

Briana Lewis

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Due to the construction of Robert Morris University’s new UPMC Events Center, there have been changes made to campus for the duration of the project.

According to the university, the new home of Colonials basketball and volleyball is planned to open in January 2019. The $50 million project will include the new Peoples Court to house RMU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as women’s volleyball. The building will be replacing the 32-year-old Sewall Center at the front of campus.

Construction has recently begun on the two-year project. RMU students received an email on Sept. 29 about the anticipated construction.

“Sitework for the UPMC Events Center project will begin Monday, October 2, 2017. Please use caution in the area of construction throughout the duration of the project,” said an email sent to students from Colonial Central.

According to Jonathan Potts, vice president of marketing and public relations, the UPMC Events Center will be approximately 65,000 of the 160,000 square feet will be the existing Sewall Center building.

The email to students also stated that the Lower Sewall parking lot would be closed for construction in the next week. On Oct. 3, the lower region of the Lower Sewall lot was closed for construction followed by the rest of the lot on Oct. 5 for the duration of the UPMC Event Center project.

The Lower Sewall lot was where students who were residents of Yorktown Hall, one of the university’s off-campus dorms, were permitted to park when commuting to campus. Students were notified about the parking situation on campus on Oct. 19.

In an email to students, faculty and staff, Randy Mink, chief of RMU Police and director of public safety, sent, “Please note that with construction of the UPMC Events Center getting underway, some parking spaces on campus will be temporarily unavailable. We ask that you be patient while driving through campus and seek a parking spot during this time, and keep a few things in mind.”

RMU Police reminded students, faculty and staff to be mindful when parking on campus during construction. To avoid issues or receiving citations while parking on campus during the new layout, Mink instructed commuters to not block fire hydrants, other vehicles or emergency vehicle areas.

“We do plan on adding parking to Lower Sewall once construction is completed,” said Potts.

On Oct. 18, Colonial Central sent an email to students notifying them of the modifications made to Campus Drive leading into campus.

“Due to the construction of the UPMC Event Center, Campus Drive has been modified,” said an email to students, faculty, and staff. “A temporary road and pedestrian walkway have been constructed to bypass the construction site for the duration of the project.”

The new Campus Drive moderation runs through the vacant Lower Sewall lot, connecting back to the original road after bypassing the Sewall Center.

“For the most part, it will be restored,” said Potts about how Campus Drive will look after construction is finished. “There might be some slight adjustments once construction is over.”

The first speed bumps on campus are on the moderated Campus Drive. Three speed bumps are on the stretch of road in front of the construction site.

“It’s a new road, it’s an unfamiliar traffic pattern,” said Potts. “They’re there to ensure people don’t pick up too much speed and continue to drive safely. We don’t anticipate they will be necessary elsewhere on campus.”

The speed bumps will be removed along with the temporary road nearing the end of construction, said Potts.

Along with construction revolving around the UPMC Events Center, the university has also started construction around the new Student Recreation and Fitness Center to expand the center’s parking lot and roadway.

“During this work, there is no parking permitted along Competition Drive,” Facilities Management alerted students on Oct. 24, 2017, via email. “Please use surrounding campus parking facilities as vehicles entering and exiting Student Recreation parking lot may experience delays. During construction pedestrian access to the Student Recreation Center is restricted to the paths alongside the softball and soccer fields.”

According to Potts, now that all of students’ recreational and fitness needs were moved out of the Jefferson Center and into the new Student Recreation and Fitness Center, the Jefferson Center continues to be home to the university’s VET Center, the Student Health Center and is temporarily housing strength and conditioning coaches who were located in the Sewall Center before construction began.

“Long-term, there are plans to renovate the John Jay Center now that nursing has moved out into Scaife Hall,” said Potts. “To add more labs and classroom space for the School of Mathematics, Engineering and Science.”

Another future goal the university has, apart from finishing construction on the UPMC Events Center in the upcoming years, is creating more housing on campus, said Potts.

For more information about construction on campus email Colonial Central at [email protected] or visit the Robert Morris University website.

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