SPEED projects moving forward; Skydome, Liberal Arts to close in December

skydome project

Northern Arizona University has re-started its SPEED construction efforts, and projects will soon begin on campus.

The 33-year-old Skydome will close in mid-December following the football season and fall commencement. Construction will address fire and life safety and Title IX issues as well as upgrade outdated accommodations.

The 46-year-old Liberal Arts building also will close in December to allow construction on fire and life safety issues and to upgrade classroom and faculty office space.

Both buildings are expected to re-open in August 2011.

“We know that closing these two buildings will be a short-term inconvenience,” said Jane Kuhn, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “However, in the long term, we will have highly improved facilities that meet the needs of our students, faculty, athletes and fans.”

SPEED—Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development—is intended to jump-start Arizona’s sagging economy by boosting the construction industry and addressing critical renovation and building renewal needs on campus.

Arizona Lottery revenues will fund 80 percent of the SPEED debt service, and the university will pay 20 percent. Northern Arizona University would pay interest only on the projects for five years.

Other SPEED projects include remodeling the Hotel and Restaurant Management building to convert the former Inn at NAU into classroom and culinary lab space. Construction is expected to start in May and be completed in December. The Inn at NAU closed in June 2008.

Construction in the North Union, which also is closed, will begin this month and will include roofing, electrical upgrades, fire and life safety issues as well as overall renovations. The project is expected to be completed in May.

Upgrades to the north campus infrastructure, including the campus boiler plant, sewer lines and tunnels, began in November and will run through August.

Two other high-profile projects are under way—or soon will be—including the 270,000-square-foot Health and Learning Center, mostly paid for through student fees, and the $6 million Native American Center, which is paid half through donations and half by NAU. The Health and Learning Center projects also include the newly opened fields on south campus and an upgraded Fronske Health Center, which will move when the new building opens.

skydome project
A cross-section view of the Skydome shows future renovations.