Fall hurricanes lead to delays in construction

After two major hurricanes hit South Florida this past season, many building projects throughout the state and across the nation came to a dramatic halt, including construction on the UM campus.

Two of these projects, the new School of Communication Student Center and the M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies, were particularly affected.

Both buildings were originally scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the spring 2006 semester, but the setbacks caused by the weather have pushed back their completion. The communication building is now scheduled to open in late April and the nursing complex in early May.

Despite the delays in construction, there will be no added costs to the projects.

“There was no damage to the structure, but a lot of time was lost due to the hurricane,” Laurie Reinhardt-Plotnik, director of development for the School of Nursing, said. “Supplies were very short.”

The four-story, Jerusalem stone and stucco nursing building will feature several classrooms, clinical practice labs, a simulation center and, among other things, three “smart classrooms.” The latter offer an interactive learning environment and opportunities for distance instruction with educational partners around the world. The three rooms will also be linked electronically, creating a large “cyber auditorium,” which will be used for lecture classes and visiting speakers.

The 53,000-square-foot building will enable an annual undergraduate enrollment increase from 450 to 700 nursing students.

The smaller 26,280-square-foot communications building, however, will be an addition to the relatively new Frances L. Wolfson building. The structure didn’t suffer any damages either.

“The construction site fared well throughout the season, but there was a huge shortage of windows and other construction supplies throughout the nation,” Sam L Grogg, dean of the School of Communication, said. “The contractor couldn’t seal the building. People were waiting for hours to get these windows, so we had to wait until the end of hurricane season to resume the interior work.”

The five-story structure will include faculty offices, Mac and PC labs, facilities for the Spanish Language Graduate Program, sound editing spaces for film and broadcast majors equipped with state-of-the-art Avid Nitris and Pro Tools technology and around six to seven classrooms, two of them acting as lecture halls with teleconferencing capabilities.

“The projection and multimedia equipment that are going into these halls are all HD [high-definition],” Tom Ortiz, director of engineering and operations for the School of Communication, said. “The large hall holds about 140 people and the small lecture hall holds about 70.”

The building was completely funded before construction began, with expenses totalling $6.2 million.

Orlando Bommin, the project manager for campus planning and construction for the communication building, expressed his concern about delays due to problems with the construction company, Maleta Construction.

“[Maleta] have encountered various market problems due to the hurricane season, and we’ve had some management problems with them as well,” Bommin said.

However, things now seem to be in working order to ensure its completion.

“We continually monitor the project on a daily basis to see it completed by late April,” Bommin said.

Now that hurricane season has passed, the expansion of both schools can finally be completed.

Enthusiastic students are already awaiting the opening of these new facilities.

“I’m curious to see the completed building,” Priscilla del Nero, a junior, said. “The labs [in the School of Communication]are always so full, that we could definitely use the extra space.”

Grogg also has high expectations for the new communications buildings.

“We hope to increase undergraduate enrollment by about 200 students over the next four years,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to using these facilities for the benefit of all the students.”

Ricardo Herrera can be contacted at

February 10, 2006


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

A six-pack of UM notes on a Friday: ▪ Four-star Oregon-based quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. told Ri ...

On the eve of her team’s NCAA Tournament opener, University of Miami coach Katie Meier took the oppo ...

The defeated and deflated Miami Hurricanes quietly packed up their bags and trudged out of their Ame ...

Even before Donte Ingram broke Miami’s heart and sent the Hurricanes home from the NCAA Tournament w ...

And so ends Miami's season. No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago's Donte Ingram hit a buzzer-beating ...

From bringing communities together to understanding the impacts of urbanization on the groundwater s ...

Novelist Jennine Capó Crucet’s book talk on March 20 explores belonging, identity, and what it means ...

Musical theatre students spent quality time learning (and laughing) with Avenue Q co-creator Jeff Ma ...

The University of Miami takes concrete steps to become the hemispheric university as it builds a rel ...

A UM physicist comments on the passing of British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. ...

The Canes closed out the Hurricane Invitational with a strong showing on the track and in the field ...

The University of Miami rowing team kicked off its spring season at the 2018 Oak Ridge Cardinal Invi ...

The Hurricanes fell behind early and could not recover Saturday afternoon, falling to No. 23 Duke, 4 ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team had its superb 2017-18 season come to an end Sa ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team will go into a match ranked for the first time this s ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.