By LYNN LOFTON
In the Gulf Park Campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, demolition of the 25-year-old modular structure, the Joe Earl Holloway Complex, is almost complete to make way for construction of a Business and Health Building. The $7-million facility will provide 25,000 square feet of space for students, faculty and staff and has an estimated completion date of May, 2017.
The building has not been officially named, but for now is being called the Business and Health Building Project.
“This building is important because it replaces the last of the modular/temporary structures being used for classroom instruction and faculty/staff office space,” said Dr. Steve Miller, vice president for the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.
“Having safer, building code constructed permanent facilities is extremely important in this hurricane zone. In addition, the newly designed and technologically equipped classrooms enhance learning and student success.”
The bid award and notice to proceed for construction of the new building is scheduled for January. McCarty Architects in Tupelo designed the facility. The Business and Health Building Project is being funded from $3.5 million appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature and an additional $3.5 million appropriated by the legislature for general repairs to, and restoration of, Southern Miss facilities.
Miller noted that over time, these modular structures deteriorated and needed to be replaced.
The building project will remain consistent with the mission style architecture found across the Gulf Park campus.
“Bringing new facilities to the Gulf Park campus signifies a strong commitment to providing quality, higher education on the Coast,” he said.
“As we recruit and enroll students at USM, it’s important that we have current, technologically advanced facilities to support our students’ ability to learn, conduct research and share knowledge.”
Putting the colleges of business and health in the same facility was born out of need.
“The Holloway Complex housed the College of Health. However, the College of Business is also housed in similar modular units. Given our need to remove all modular structures from the Gulf Park campus, this was an opportunity to create new spaces for both of those academic units,” Miller said.
The first floor of the new building will provide multi-use classrooms, conference rooms and study space for use by all students, faculty and staff on the Gulf Park campus. The Colleges of Business and Health will occupy separate spaces on the second floor.
Five undergraduate degrees and one master’s level degree are offered by the College of Health on the Gulf Park Campus. In the campus’ College of Business, four undergraduate degrees and one certificate program along with two master’s degrees are offered.
The results of a structural analysis in December of 2014 indicated that the Holloway Complex, which housed classrooms and the College of Health faculty and staff offices, needed to be taken offline.
“In December 2014, the student classrooms in the Holloway Complex were closed, and we began preparing a new location for the College of Health faculty and staff,” Miller said.
“In spring 2015, the College of Health faculty and staff were moved to a building that had been recently de-obligated from another research program on the Gulf Park campus.”
Beginning in the spring 2015 semester, we utilized classrooms in other academic spaces, filling in any gaps in the schedules and maximizing the use of other classroom spaces across the campus. In addition, we are utilizing conference rooms in administrative buildings for smaller class meetings.
Addressing construction site safety concerns, Miller says the construction site is fenced. “There is a separate entrance/exit for the contractors and workers. We have added signage to the front of the site so that students, faculty, staff and visitors are aware of the project. Each day, my priority is to ensure the safest, most secure learning environment possible. This new facility helps to address that priority.”