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Union of steel and stone

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan
By Jenna Duncan

Construction project about 30 percent complete

Construction crews are pouring concrete and planting the steel structure for the new student union building at the University of North Texas.

The project is about 30 percent complete. Construction on the $130 million building began in October and should be finished in time to open in August 2015, according to Jeannine Vail, senior project architect.

“They are now heavily installing all of the steel structure — it’s arriving every day by the truckload,” she said.

An estimated 200 to 300 construction workers are on site daily. They pour concrete slabs overnight and install the steel during the day. The project will take more than 1,800 tons of steel and 16,000 cubic yards of concrete to complete the 100,000 square feet of additions, Vail said.

“They’re working just about 24/7,” she said. “They come at night to pour the concrete because of the heat and the large amount of people working on the site. When those trucks come in, it doesn’t allow for some other trades to come in and work.”

The University Union is an amalgam of service centers — a post office, cafes, stores and lounges where students and staff can linger on campus. The new additions will join a portion of the old union, which will be renovated as part of the project.

The steel structure is expected to be finalized Sept. 4, when the university will have a topping-off ceremony as the final high beam is moved into place. Planning for the event is underway, said Zane Reif, director of the union.

Then, crews will begin working on the walls and exterior. At that point, union staff members plan to start doing guided tours of the construction site for students and community members.

“We’re going to do tours on Friday afternoons, or something like that, and have a construction worker walk us through the site so people can have a firsthand sense of what it will look like,” he said.

Students and passers-by can get a better sense of the project when walking past thanks to new signage added this month. At each of the site’s four corners, there is a QR code for people to scan with their smartphones. It pulls up a rendering of the new union and surroundings from that corner. That feature was added a few weeks ago so people can start to visualize what the new union will look like, Reif said.

The project remains on time and on budget, Vail said.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.