Delayed construction projects now ready for student use

Now that the new semester is underway, some students are finding themselves suddenly having to relearn the layout of campus.

With the completion of the M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies and the expansion of the School of Communication’s Frances L. Wolfson building, the University of Miami has added 78,000 square feet of educational space this semester.

In addition, since the final residential building of the University Village was completed in December, there are now significantly fewer construction zones around school.

Both new classroom buildings are now being used by students and faculty. It has been a long process, though: the Schwartz Center was originally scheduled to be completed by Spring 2006, while the School of Communication student center had been planned for the end of 2005.

Delays have been attributed to management issues with construction companies, labor shortages, window glass issues, and hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

“I’m just glad that we’re finally in our new home,” said Brian Vells, a graduate assistant in the nursing school.

Laura Traini, a senior in the nursing school, expressed a similar sentiment about the construction process:

“It was kind of slow, but we’re happy it’s kind of finalized,” she said. “It’s awesome and we’re all really excited to be in classes inside.”

Vells agrees.

“It’s beautiful and it’s a great place for us to learn how to care for people,” he said. “It’s state-of-the- art. It mimics a hospital so you really get a lot of hands-on experience in there.”

The nursing school will dedicate their new building on Feb. 15.

Communication students were also happy to have their new space. Last semester the school moved classes scheduled for the new building to different locations, such as Studio B in the Wolfson building and the Bill Cosford Cinema, as a result of the delays.

“The new building is really nice,” said junior communication student Sarah Kalis. “The rooms are big and it’s just pretty; it has a pretty view.”

The construction of the University Village took longer than expected as well. Completed on Dec. 1, building one of the Village has been open for the 96 residents since that date.

“Everyone is in their places, it’s a very successful project, and I believe the students are very happy with the apartments and the layout of the rooms,” said Gilbert Arias, an assistant vice president for Student Affairs. “It’s a great addition to our campus.”

The last remaining elements of the project are projected to be completed by the end of February. The final phase of construction will include the South Garage.

The Student Support Center, which includes the leasing office, the mailroom and a convenience store, is scheduled to be done by mid-February. Arias added that the convenience store may take longer because it is still in the permitting process.

Some students, however, cited continuing issues with their apartments.

“Everything in it is completely shoddily constructed,” said Brian Noack, a resident of building one. “Our AC has broken like four times. We just have a zillion little problems. Plugs don’t fit right, our cupboards are not straight.

“They come and fix our AC every time, but it’s brand new and we’re paying $800 a month times four people. We shouldn’t be having issues like that.”

Nate Harris may be contacted at