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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Library work marks start of construction projects at EOU


Library work marks start of construction projects at EOU

Pierce Library undergoing $8 million upgrade; Ackerman Gym serves as interim location for library services

Over the summer, Eastern Oregon University’s historic Ackerman Gymnasium has traded in its basketball hoops for bookcases. Instead of reverberating the bounce of balls against the backboard, the building with the vaulted ceiling will provide a home for Pierce Library’s staff, student study spaces, curriculum collection, some reference titles, periodicals and media.

The changes to Ackerman Gym and Pierce Library are just the starting point for a series of major construction projects on EOU’s La Grande campus. Renovations to Zabel Hall and the Hoke Union Building will follow over the next year.

“These updates are tremendous for EOU,” said EOU President Bob Davies. “We want to update and upgrade our existing buildings to better serve our students and improve energy efficiencies and ultimately be better stewards of these state resources.”

To handle the updates, Pierce Library formally closed its doors Aug. 1 and will greet patrons with a completely redesigned interior a year from now when the $8 million project is expected to be complete.

In the meantime, services that will be accessible from Ackerman Gym include the circulation desk, reserves, computers, printers and photocopiers.

On Sept. 21, the library reopens in its interim location. Until then and for the duration of the renovations, students will continue to access the library’s online resources without interruption, but the main physical collections are unavailable. To help with the transition, telephone and email services will be offered with the express intent of assisting users with locating materials.

The majority of the library’s main collection is headed for storage in Quinn Coliseum, along with reference titles, microfilm and various other materials. These resources will be “pageable,” meaning patrons will search for and request items to be delivered to Ackerman gym for pick up.

“Our primary goal during the construction process is to continue to provide services to students, faculty, staff and our partners,” said Pierce Library Director Karen Clay. “The reward for the transition is a ‘new’ library we are all very excited about.”

Fortis Construction Inc. is the general contractor on all four projects. Allied Works Architecture completed the planning and design for Pierce Library. Other firms include Hennebery Eddy Architects for Ackerman Gym and Zabel Hall, and SERA Architects for the Hoke Union Building. All are Oregon companies.

EOU has worked with Fortis Construction and SERA Architects before, including the LEED-certified remodel of Inlow Hall in 2009-10.

“Working with a familiar team like Fortis builds on our ability to co-manage these projects,” said David Lageson, EOU director of facilities and planning. “We elected to collaborate with one general contractor on all four projects to expedite construction and save resources, and it’s working.”

The Oregon Legislature approved bond sales for a total of $15,643,000 for capital construction at EOU during 2009-2011 and $14,679,000 during 2011-2013.

State Rep. Greg Smith and State Sen. David Nelson led the effort in securing funding for the projects, which Davies said are important not only for EOU, but also the economic benefit of the region. State resources include some deferred maintenance to the original structures approved for renovation.

To help identify priorities for each project, EOU worked with the architecture firms to hold open forums and also conducted surveys with students, staff and community members. In Pierce Library’s case, upgrades to the 1949 Art Moderne building will enhance the strengths inherent to its particular style. Improvements that emerged include better use of floor plans to create open and inviting common areas with more study space, increased patron access to library staff support and technology, improved building circulation and wayfinding.

Soon construction will be under way simultaneously at Pierce, Zabel and Hoke. The university is also entering the planning and design phase for renovations to Quinn Coliseum set to begin later next year.

“I’m eager to have construction on campus. It shows that EOU is moving forward. This ‘facelift’ means we will match our great programs with equally great facilities,” Davies said. 

For more information on these and other capital construction projects at EOU visit www.eou.edu/capital-projects.

Additional information on how to access materials from Pierce Library during the renovation is available at pierce.eou.edu/home/renovation.


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