New Jamrich construction continues

Emily Pagel

Construction for the new Jamrich building began Monday, April 1 as the faculty and staff parking lot between the Learning Resource Center and Hedgcock was removed in preparation for a facility that is expected to bring connectivity to campus.

The 136,000 square feet, three story building will be fully finished by next August for the fall 2014 semester. The new Jamrich will house not only classrooms and lecture halls but also faculty offices for five departments — English, psychology and sociology, math and computer science, social work and anthropology —  and extensive space dedicated to “informal learning” and lounge seating areas, according to associate director of engineering and planning Jim Thams.

Thams said in spite  of the poor Upper Peninsula weather conditions in recent weeks, construction has stayed close to schedule.

“We started slow the first few weeks, but within the second and third week we were able to bring in the excavators,” Thams said. “Having those few weeks at the end of the semester enabled us to hit the ground running and we only lost three days due to weather.”

Thams said creating a facility that brings connectivity to campus was the driving force of this building, and it will be a “busy, vibrant facility” for both students and faculty. There will  also be a passageway connecting the Learning Resource Center to the new Jamrich building, according to Thams.

Thams also said it is important NMU maintains a large lecture hall for extracurricular activities such as Campus Cinema and other large campus events.

Among the departments that will be relocated to the new Jamrich is the English department. The English department offices are currently located in Gries Hall near the University Center.

Jo Doran, a professor in the English department, said the relocation of the department to the new Jamrich building would bring many benefits for students and faculty that is very important.

“Last fall I had a class downstairs here in Gries, and it was wonderful,” Doran said. “I had easier access for things students wanted during class, like if they asked, ‘do you have a book on this,’ or ‘could you make a copy of such and such,’ I could run up and do it. It was just excellent.”

She said the convenience of having classrooms and faculty offices in relative proximity will greatly benefit students in the future.

Doran also said the relocation will give professors more availability with students since they will be in the academic mall.

“We will be located where all the buildings are active,” she said. “Right now we are really separate. It takes me a long time to get over (to the academic mall).

“If I’m working with a student here (in Gries Hall) during office hours and then to run over to class, I have to break things off, whereas if I had a classroom in the same building I could spend time with them.”

The building currently has 90 percent of the footing and foundation completed. If construction goes as planned, the steel and walls will be up before the snow falls in November.