Steam plant demolition scheduled to be complete before fall semester

July 21, 2011 | News, UToday
By Christian Stewart

The demolition of the old steam plant located next to Wolfe Hall is slated to be complete before the start of fall semester.

The steam plant, which has been in operation since 1952, is being replaced by new boilers in Savage Arena. The boilers were installed on the former site of the racquetball courts during the building’s renovation three years ago.

“The new plant is more efficient both in operation and in ease to run,” explained Michael Green, UT director of energy management. “The old plant was well-maintained, but is in ideal campus real estate. The old plant and its maintenance crew and manager have done an excellent job supporting the campus.”

The boilers in the old plant required licensed operators to monitor conditions and operate the stations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The boilers in the new plant are fully automated so that most of the labor has been distributed to fill voids in campus maintenance.

“This project is like a heart transplant for campus,” Green said. “We put in a second heart and are now removing the first. This is major surgery for this campus.”

Currently, the inside of the steam plant building is being abated to remove asbestos and when that is complete in the next few weeks, the building will be torn down.

When the plant was built, it was on the edge of campus. But nearly 60 years later, the campus has grown around it.

“I am sure students have thought, ‘What is that ugly building doing in the middle of campus?’” Green said. “We are going to make campus a little prettier by this move.”

The steam shutdown in the northwest part of campus, which began June 20 and is expected to last another four to five weeks, is one component of the demolition process. In the past, steam was pumped from Savage Arena through the old plant before being distributed to buildings in the northwest area of campus. The steam shutdown is needed for workers to reconnect the pipes directly from Savage Arena to the buildings.

The buildings affected by this shutdown are Wolfe Hall and Bowman-Oddy Laboratories, the Center for Performing Arts, the Law Center, the Main Campus Medical Center, Academic House, International House, Memorial Field House, and Libbey, Scott, Tucker, MacKinnon, and Dowd, Nash and White halls.

The University opted to make the changes during the summer months because fewer people live on campus and will be inconvenienced. The entire demolition process should take between six to eight weeks and is expected to be complete by the time students sit down for their first fall classes, Green said.

“When students come back, we want this area to be a pile of rubble or a field of grass seed,” Green said.

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