Fox School of Business, with recent approval of the Board of Trustees, will soon begin developing plans for a $400,000 reconstruction of the front steps leading into Alter Hall from Liacouras Walk in order to open up space in what officials said was a crowded pedestrian zone.
James Creedon, senior vice president for construction, facilities and management, said his office will work with Fox to develop a design on the project, and would like to begin construction in the summer when less people are using the building.
Creedon said expanded steps were part of the original design plan of the building, which finished construction in 2009 at a cost of $80 million, but could not specify why the design was ultimately cut.
“When you’re building a project, there are concepts that go in, concepts that go out, funding that is allocated in certain areas and you make room in other areas,” Creedon said.
Creedon said support for the current project came from Dean Moshe Porat and his office, which conducted a review of the steps and submitted a proposal to the Board of Trustees. It was confirmed at a November executive committee meeting. Design and construction of the steps will be paid for by the Dean’s Office at Fox using funds from carry-over resources from last year that were created from staff vacancies.
In an email, Porat said his office started a review of the steps after comments were made that they were too steep, and observed that crowds were too large for the steps’ capacity often formed during periods between class time, creating safety concerns for students and faculty.
The steps created a safety concern in times of bad weather conditions when rain, snow and ice created slippery conditions along the narrow steps, Creedon said.
“[The reconstruction] makes it a little more of a welcoming area, plus it gives a lot more room from a safety perspective, a maintenance perspective, it’s going to be a lot easier to keep that free of snow and ice,” Creedon said.
Preliminary sketches provided by Facilities Management show a wider double set of stairs extending beyond the columns under the Alter Hall sign, flanked on both sides by brick planters holding small bushes.
Students in Fox expressed some concern about the spending toward a solution to what a few students said was not a visible problem.
“Spending $400,000 to widen the steps to increase traffic to the Fox School of Business is kind of a waste. Students that come here come in and out as they do [through several different entrances],” Allison Shields, a senior marketing major, said. “I don’t think it is that effective of a plan.”
“I think the money could be better spent elsewhere,” added Rebecca Clayton, a senior marketing major, suggesting that money go to improve the building’s wireless Internet, which she said she has trouble connecting to on a consistent basis.
Maria Colletta, a senior management information systems major, said the doors leading into the building may be one of the larger contributors to the back up, and the administration should look more into that as a solution.
“We feel that spending $400,000 to help ensure our students, faculty, staff and visitors do not become injured is a sound investment,” Porat said.
Creedon said movement in and out of Alter Hall will be facilitated through other entrances in Speakman Hall during the construction process.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.