Monday, August 27, 2012

Physics labs relinquish issues concerning new dorms - The Auburn Plainsman

by TJ Harlin / CAMPUS REPORTER The Auburn Plainsman

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More than a year ago, Sewell Hall, a residence hall by Duck-Samford Park that housed athletes, was demolished. The hall, built in 1962, had run its course after 50 years of use.

The space where Sewell Hall stood was not empty for long.

Construction is currently underway for a new residence hall at the spot. According to a construction update from the Board of Trustees in June, the new residence hall should be complete by June 23, 2013, with a budget of $51 million.

The hall is now 19 percent complete.

However, there were many concerns with members of the physics department before construction of the building began.

Across from the new residence hall is the Leach Science Center, which houses physics research labs.

When the building’s plans were announced, physics professors expressed concerns that students in the new buildings may not be safe.

“There was a series of meetings between faculty members and architects,” said Dr. Edward Thomas Jr., professor in physics. “(There were concerns about) safety related to some of the experiments we have operating.”

Leach Science Center houses experiments like magnetic fields, vacuums and high power systems.

“Those are all fairly standard in a research laboratory,” Thomas said. “In order to ensure those systems operate safely we take extreme precautions to ensure that not only our own students, but students that can get in the general area, are safe.”

Auburn Facilities did not hesitate to meet with the physics department and address these concerns.

“We’ve worked with the folks at physics a good bit (during the construction),” said Greg Parsons, University architect. “They do some excellent work there.”

After sitting down to talk a solution was found.

Safety fences will be put up around the boundary between Leach and the new residence hall to isolate the spaces from each other.

The two buildings will also have different driveways and different loading docks.

“I would say pretty much at this point we are more or less in agreement and on the same page with the construction of the building,” Thomas said.

Students are happy that facilities and the physics department were able to come to an agreement.

“It is really good to see all the departments cooperating for the betterment of Auburn,” said David Manush, junior in political science. “I was under the impression that different parts of the campus would tune each other out.”

Parsons also sounded optimistic.

“With any project there are disruptions,” Parsons said. “But I’m sure we’ll take of the folks in the physics department.”

Communication has been beneficial for everyone involved.

“There are no significant issues that exist at the moment by having the open communication with facilities,” Thomas said. “Our task is to have open communication both ways to ensure that we don’t have any problems.”

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