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Morning Sun
  • Construction 40 years in the making

  • The ceremonial groundbreaking for the new performing arts center at Pittsburg State will be Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. But the unofficial groundbreaking has already taken place.



    Crews from Crossland Construction are already on the scene turning the decades-in-the-works performing arts center into a reality.

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  • The ceremonial groundbreaking for the new performing arts center at Pittsburg State will be Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. But the unofficial groundbreaking has already taken place.
    Crews from Crossland Construction are already on the scene turning the decades-in-the-works performing arts center into a reality.
    Already, crews have torn out the intramural basketball courts, the ROTC training area. All that remains of the softball fields south of the Weede are two lonely dugouts without a field. Those dugouts will be taken out soon, as well.
    Seeing the dirtwork, it becomes hard to remember what the vacant field looked like before the crews arrived less than two weeks ago.
    “When you have this much iron out, it goes pretty quickly,” said site superintendent Jeff Machado.
    But getting to this point has been the opposite of “pretty quick.” In 1972, the school asked for $4 million in state funds to build a fine and performing arts center. Forty years later, shovels — and heavier machinery — is finally on site.
    The project, which comes in at $30.3 million, is expected to be completed at the end of summer 2014. Several construction alternatives were chosen, said PSU Facilities Planning director Paul Stewart, to reduce the base bid price.
    “I’m working through that in both directions. One of the alternatives, to remove the skylights, we’ve since had a donor step in and put that back in,” Stewart said.
    The skylights are estimated to cost $52,000.
    “I’m thrilled,” Stewart said. “That was a huge feature.”
    In order to save on construction costs, PSU will not be building fencing around the roof units or the ground units, a cost of a combined $224,000. An etched split-face gorilla for $44,000 will not be built, either. Finally, the $51,000 in window shading will also not be constructed.
    “One check, and those could be back in. We have no additive alternates. We just have the baseline equipment, the baseline theater equipment,” Stewart said. “There always could be enhancements to make there.”
    The work currently being done on the site starts with clearing away the building site. Over the coming weeks, crews will bring in a specific type of dirt to be used to raise the building pad up a certain height for drainage reasons. Then, they’ll go back and dig out a spot for the future orchestra pit, as well as other subsurface issues.
    Machado said the foundation should be started by the middle of February, and vertical construction of pre-cast concrete panels could start by April. All of that, of course, is weather permitting.
    “It’ll probably look bigger than it is because the auditorium takes up so much open space. It’s just utilized different,” Machado said about the 60,000-square foot building. “It’s going to be a real nice building. Anyone who’s been around the design and seen the drawings knows it’s top of the line.”
    Page 2 of 2 - There is still some more demolition to be done. The tennis courts will have to go sometime at the end of the summer. Arrangements are still in the works for the construction of new tennis courts.
    But at the end of the day, the performing arts center is no longer a request. It’s a reality in progress.
    “It’s huge to get this far,” Stewart said. “It’s very exciting. I’m thrilled with seeing dirtwork. We’ve talked about it and talked about it. But people are still wondering what’s going on.”
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.
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