Renovations of Founders to cause campus-wide relocation


Provided by Mary Paula Schuh

Map of the new Founders Hall and Health Innovation Center.

Abby Anstead, News Editor

Founders Hall houses 20 percent of the university’s classes, and before any of the renovations begin with the construction of the Health Innovations Center, the five-story academic building must be completely vacated, causing a cluster of classes and departments to be relocated.

Vacating the facility will begin in December, and the process is expected to carry over into January. Renovations of the building are expected to begin in late January to early February.

The building is home to the departments of Political Science and Criminal Justice, Women’s and Gender Studies, Wellness, the Entrepreneurship Institute, CINSAM, Community Connections, the NKU Foundation, ROTC, Kentucky Campus Compact, the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, the Cincinnati Insurance Testing Center and the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement.  

According to Larry Blake, assistant vice president for facilities management, there are several departments outside of Founders that must be relocated so that the departments inside of Founders can find a home elsewhere.

Blake explained that the Kentucky Center for Mathematics will be moved from the Math, Education and Psychology Center and into Campbell Hall. This will allow the Department of World Languages and Literatures to be moved from Landrum into the vacancy in MEP.

By moving those two departments, this will open space in Landrum Hall for the Department of Political Science, Criminal Justice and Organizational Leadership, the largest department currently housed in Founders Hall.

“We’ve been talking to every dean on campus, ‘Can you give up a room here, a room there, a classroom, an office,’” Blake said. “And they’ve been very, very cooperative to try to help us find the space to get people out of Founders Hall.”

Mary Paula Schuh, director of campus planning, has been working with academic affairs to relocate the classes currently located in Founders Hall.

Schuh said that during this planning phase she has been examining the sizes of the classes located in Founders as well as the size of the classroom they are held in so that they can be relocated to an accommodating space.

She also said that all of the political science classes are located in Founders Hall and it has been a challenge identifying classrooms to facilitate the large number of classes displaced within that department.

“We’ve looked at classrooms in nearly every campus building, and we have made adjustments,” Schuh said. “The Department of Political Science, Criminal Justice and Organizational Leadership is the biggest department within the Arts and Sciences, it might be the biggest department on campus.”

Although Founder’s Hall will not be completely vacated until January, Schuh hopes to have the relocation plans finalized within the next couple of weeks.

The university selected Mark P. Jones out of 60 candidates who applied to manage the project.

As senior project manager and university architect, Jones brings 30 years of experience in healthcare architecture to NKU.

Jones has previously worked for HDR Healthcare, the largest healthcare firm in the country, where he served as their project manager, overseeing projects that cost up to $900 million.

For his position, Jones will oversee the architectural, mechanical and structural aspects of the project. He will also manage the team’s budgets and schedules.

Jones said that because the construction project is so large, the facilities will be completed in multiple phases.

“As we begin to move forward with it, it’s just making sure that we’re staying on top of it; that we’re using state’s money appropriately,” Jones said. “We have to make sure we’re maintaining schedule, if things begin to elongate, to find ways to bring everything back into the schedule so that we don’t run over budget and run over on our schedule.”

Built in 1974, Founders Hall was originally home to the natural sciences until the addition of the Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Science Center in 2002.

“The building is way beyond needing total renovation,” Blake said.

Blake said that although the science department moved out of Founders Hall, the facility still has the HVAC system that was created for the former science center.

“We still have rooms in there, if you wander around long enough you’ll find them, that have the labs still in them,” Blake said. “They’re just not in use.”

In addition to housing remnants of the old science center, Founders Hall also has outdated technology and electrical issues.

“When it was built, the code didn’t require every outlet to have a ground wire come through it,” Blake said. “That’s not a problem from a safety standpoint, but it can be a problem from a computer standpoint.”

According to Blake, all of the interior walls will be torn down, and all of the systems will be removed so that “it will basically be the exterior shell of the building.”

He also said that the exterior will undergo some minor changes. The greenhouse area at the plaza entrance will be removed and replaced with clear glass so that classrooms will be visible, and Founders’ black windows will be replaced with clear glass.

When completed, Founders Hall will be connected to the Health Innovation Center. There will be an atrium space between the two buildings, with bridges going back and forth at every floor level.

“We’ll be punching big holes in the side of Founders on the backside,” Blake said.

The renovation of Founders Hall and the construction of the Health Innovation Center was submitted to the state as one project.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky  granted $97 million to fund the entire project, and St. Elizabeth gifted another $8 million towards the development of simulation facilities in the Health Innovations Center.

“Everything that goes into Founders compliments the new portion of the Health Innovations Center,” Blake said.

Renovations of Founders are projected to be complete by May 2018 at the same time as the Health Innovation Center.

Blake said the completion date is set for the end of the semester so that faculty and staff have time to adjust to the new technology and systems of the new facility. Students will be able to use newly-renovated Founders Hall and the Health Innovation Center by the 2018 fall semester.

“I think the whole concept of it is interesting, the idea of transdisciplinary education where they’re going to bring all of these things together, and they’re going to be sharing knowledge,” Jones said. “Hearing the folks here at NKU talk about it, I mean the excitement about it is really impressive.”