Home improvements: CFAES facility upgrades you might not know about

Little things mean a lot when it comes to supporting the work you do — and where you do it.

Members of CFAES’s Facilities and Capital Planning department, led by Brian Hanna, capital planning director, recently completed, or are about to complete, a large number of possibly under-the-radar projects aimed at improving classrooms, labs and office spaces. The projects may be less noticeable than a new, from-the-ground-up building, for instance, but they contribute in big ways, every day, to our efficiency, effectiveness and comfort on the job, and also to the success of our students.

“Typically, when people hear the term ‘capital improvements,’ new buildings come to mind,” Hanna said. “But that’s not always the case. Oftentimes we’re able to create significant physical improvements inside existing walls.”

Here’s a look at some of those projects, courtesy of the department’s Chuck Gamble, facilities project coordinator; Randall Marthey, senior engineer; and Gene Howell, senior project manager.

Columbus Campus

In Columbus, projects were completed in Howlett Hall, Kottman Hall and the Animal Science Building. Projects also were completed involving spaces used by the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE) and the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE).

  • Kottman Hall 334 is now a shared classroom/lab between the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and the Department of Entomology.
  • Kottman Hall 447 is now a classroom/lab for the Department of Plant Pathology.
  • Kottman Hall 449 is now a Plant Pathology prep room.
  • Kottman Hall 451 is now a shared classroom/lab between Plant Pathology and Entomology.
  • Overall, the rooms were renovated and refreshed. Dark wood cabinets were painted light to brighten up the space, with new paint, new ceilings, new LED lighting, new teaching boards (some glass, some standard chalkboards), new electric with overhead cord reels, and new mobile lab tables and chairs. All rooms had technology added to allow communication with Wooster classes. “We also addressed ADA accessibility to sinks along with new lab tables,” Gamble said. Finally, new storage cabinets and stripped and waxed floors “really added a nice touch.”
  • “In the Kottman situation, one interesting tidbit: Both 334 and 451 went from one department space to shared space between departments, so both departments kicked in on the renovations,” Gamble said.
  • Howlett Hall 216: Three rooms previously used by CFAES Advancement were turned into three lecturer offices, one conference room and a Food Science and Technology flavor lab with a services support room.
  • Howlett Hall Greenhouse Headhouse Classroom G117: The room was totally refreshed with paint, a new ceiling, new LED lighting, new retractable electric cord reels, a new ADA lab table, new lab tables and chairs, and new counter and sinks. A prep room also was added. The classroom/lab room was reversed from its previous floor plan.
  • The Animal Science Building had two labs on the ground floor renovated or refreshed, with paint, new floors, new ceilings, new LED lighting and “much-needed” electric service.
  • The south wing of the second floor of the Agricultural Administration Building was demolished to provide new administrative offices and a conference room for AEDE. “Talk about a very nice contemporary space!” Gamble said.
  • FABE has a “dandy new high-tech classroom,” Gamble said — Agricultural Engineering 148.

Wooster Campus

Two Wooster buildings saw upgrades to their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), projects led by Marthey that should be wrapping up soon.

  • The NIH (National Institutes of Health) building is an animal facility where testing is conducted on several species of animals, from chickens to cattle. “Humans over time have had a tendency to design space based on human occupancy versus our animal friends’ needs,” Gamble said. So animal-based improvements were made including a new air handler and chilled water system to provide the best environment for 11 animal pens, and individual temperature controls for each pen. A new filter system also was added for the exhaust from the facility. “The environmental controls have been influenced by a staff veterinarian, who took into consideration what air quality should be for each species of animal,” Marthey said. “Quite the challenge for the engineers!” Gamble added.
  • Williams Hall and its annex house the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, the School of Environment and Natural Resources, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service. The building contains labs in the interior, with offices around the perimeter. New fume hoods and exhaust were installed, “which is a major upgrade for our researchers in Williams,” Marthey said. New cooling for office areas was added, too, he said, “and on a hot summer day in July will certainly be appreciated by faculty and staff.”

Secrest Arboretum

Meanwhile, also in Wooster, Secrest Arboretum’s new Welcome Center project went out to bid recently, with the apparent successful low bidder being Canton-based Beaver Constructors Inc., Howell said. The contract agreement is being prepared now.

The project is a repurposing of the Wooster Campus’s former Research Operations Service Building (#29 in a green circle near the top on this map), a single-story building about 40 feet by 120 feet in size with 18-foot ceilings. The building’s mower shop, filling about 20 percent of the space, will remain there. Staff members who were officed in the building have relocated to other spaces on the campus.

The project’s estimated construction cost was $1.56 million, Beaver’s bid was about $1.39 million, “so that allows us to include all of the alternates” for the project, too, Howell said. Those alternates include a larger assembly area, an enhanced landscaping package — including both plantings and hardscaping — and a glass upgrade that will allow the inclusion of a viewing corridor in the building.

Currently, office areas are being removed from the front portion of the building, with an attractive metal façade planned to cover the “scar.” Inside will be four main areas: an orientation area; the “support core” for offices, a kitchen, storage space and the like; a large multipurpose room dividable into two smaller rooms, slated for use by Ohio State ATI classes and arboretum special events; and a display corridor running from the building’s existing entryway to its east end for hanging murals, photographs and the like.

Formal groundbreaking for the project is expected in late winter or early spring, Howell said. Construction is planned to take about six months, so if all goes well, the new facility could open in late summer or early fall, he said.

Funding for the project, whose total cost will be about $2 million, is coming equally from two sources: from private funds donated to the arboretum; and from the OARDC Director’s Office and CFAES.

When it comes to improving CFAES’s facilities, “We need to seek out and take advantages of opportunities as they arise,” Hanna said, and the Welcome Center is a good example.

“Wooster Farm Operations was moving out of a building located centrally to the arboretum, and Secrest Arboretum was looking to construct a new building at the same location,” he said. “The obvious solution was to move the Secrest program into the evacuated building.

“The result will be a complete welcome center plus two large undergraduate teaching spaces for less than half the cost of a new building.”