William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center Progress Update

Final name for the project approved and construction ramps up around Getchell Library

9/10/2013 - By: Nicole Shearer
Construction continues on the new William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center with the demolition of Getchell Library.

With construction underway for the new William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center - as officially named after a Sept. 5 vote by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents - enthusiasm builds around the University's efforts to support student success and a growing student body.

"The excitement around this project is growing," University President Marc Johnson said. "The generous $6 million naming gift made by the William N. Pennington Foundation has moved the University half way toward its fundraising goal and has turned the vision for bringing key student services under one roof a reality. This project fosters our culture of student success by providing continued and convenient resources to help engage and retain students."

The Pennington Student Achievement Center will be constructed in the area now occupied by the Getchell Library which closed in 2008 following the opening of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. Currently, construction crews are working to take down the Getchell Library. The focus of these efforts is happening south of the building where utility relocation for water and power are taking place. On the inside of the building, crews are working on asbestos abatement and removal. Efforts will continue on the inside of the building for much of the semester and the building is slated to come down over winter break. 

"Much of the efforts to take down the building will occur with bulldozers and in hauling the materials off campus," Scott Brown, University architect and senior project manager for the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center, said. "Most of the materials removed from the property will be recycled."

The decision to take down Getchell Library was not made lightly. Intense review and forethought went into the decision including the health risks of the building, cost to update the building and bring it up to code, and the vision to really connect the north and south part of campus better.

"We knew we were making a 50-year decision to help back the vision of growing and supporting our student resources on this campus," Sean McGoldrick, associate vice president of facilities services, said. "After completing a thorough cost analysis, along with schematic designs for what the new building could look like, it really became a decision about what's best for the campus and future generations of University students."

Joining the Joe Crowley Student Union and the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the new Pennington Student Achievement Center will complement the build-out of the student-centered mid-campus district. The leadership of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno (ASUN) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA) also endorsed the plan to better connect campus and take down the 51-year-old former library.

The William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center will be approximately 77,000 square-foot, multi-winged facility that will allow the University to bring under one roof a myriad of student-success services now scattered across campus. A ground breaking date for the new William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center is scheduled for July 2014 with a grand opening slated for completion in early 2016.

Design of the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center is being led by H&K Architects, a local firm, and construction will be led by CORE Construction Services of Nevada, Inc., a Nevada corporation since 1986. The project will likely employ hundreds from throughout northern Nevada.

"In addition to serving our students, these major projects are a way to promote local employment opportunities for the construction industry," Ron Zurek, vice president finance and administration at the University, said. "Major building projects on campus have provided hundreds of local construction jobs in the last several years."

For ongoing construction updates around the new William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center please visit www.unr.edu/construction. Progress updates will also be shared in Nevada Today.


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