by Heath BruceDaily Cougar Senior Staff
While most students were away for the winter break, the University of Houston has experienced some pretty heavy construction leading to a little bit of confusion on campus.
Two major projects began over the holidays, resulting in disappearing escalators, moving trees and new street lights.
The first was the removal of the nonfunctional escalators in Agnes Arnold Hall and construction of new stairs in their place.
The second was the initial phases of construction for the new Moores School of Music Building.
"Luckily," said Fran Howell, UH interim director of Media Relations, "the construction seems to be on schedule."
In fact, the escalator removal, which was slated for completion by Friday, is a week ahead of schedule. The old escalators have already been removed and now the pre-construction period for the new stairs is beginning. The stairs will be erected during March, and workers expect the project to be complete by the middle of June.
"It is going to be a trying semester for those who have classes in Agnes Arnold, but we're trying to make it a positive experience," Howell said. "We've got to remember that this project is going to have a positive end result."
Lynn Gillespie, the assistant to the dean of the College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communications, has various promotions planned to foster a better attitude about the construction being conducted in AH. Some of the ideas discussed include an essay writing contest, T-shirts boasting "I survived the Agnes Arnold renovation" or "I'm a survivor" and painting funny anecdotes (like how many calories one has burned) at the landings of the enclosed stairs that students and faculty have to use.
"We're thinking about something like, `You've reached the sixth floor ... you can eat a muffin,'" Howell said.
Also planned is a project to mount pieces of the old escalator to desks and a project for murals to be painted by the Mexican American Student Organization.
Construction on the Moores School of Music Building also continued over the break. It was necessary for construction workers to uproot seven trees around the site. Rather than kill the trees, they relocated to the front of the esplanade outside of AH.
"Unfortunately," Howell said, "we were more excited about saving the trees than most other people were."
Howell also said students and faculty driving down Cullen during the break may have noticed that two of the street lights were replaced by stop signs.
The lights had to be taken down because of the construction on the Moores building, but they were replaced with new functioning lights just in time for the start of the semester.
"There has been a lot of excitement about everything that is going on," Howell said.
Anyone with questions about the construction or suggestions about positive promotional ideas about the construction should contact Lynn Gillespie at 743-3931.