Construction continues on NAU campus

 
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BY GARY COLLINS — 

Like something out of the imagination of Stephen King is the story of the degradation of the Wall Aquatic Center (WAC), with its rumored sinking foundation.

It is rumored that, while the center was being built, the daughter of the general contractor was raped and murdered here in Flagstaff.  It is for this reason, though details are quite unspecific, the building is slowly sinking into the ground.

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Construction near the Chemistry building has been happening all summer. (Photo by Vanessa Marchena)

The building was dedicated the “Natatorium” in 1981. While the name may be unfamiliar, it comes from the Latin and designates any building housing a pool.  Its cost at the time of construction was 4.4 million dollars.

The center was rededicated on May 30, 1996 the Wall Aquatic Center after Douglas J. Wall, a Flagstaff attorney.

Wall, a former president and member of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), is described on the plaque at the entrance of the center as, “A distinguished benefactor and lifelong supporter of Northern Arizona University.”

The WAC, rumors of a sinking foundation entirely notwithstanding, is set to be replaced.  When it was first built, the WAC or Natatorium, was hailed as the latest in design and engineering as noted in a framed piece at the top of the stairs of the building.

It is now a thirty-two year old building with the problems attendant.  Water splashed from the pool has for some time begun to seep through the concrete, as concrete is a lightly porous material.  This has begun to corrode the structural rebar reinforcement.  The water has also begun to seep into the tunnel that lies beneath the decking.

Furthermore, while the air-handling units installed in 1981 were then state of the art, they, like all mechanical devices, have begun to wear into inefficiency as would any thirty-two year old machinery.

Some students may have noticed the pool was drained earlier this year.  This was done so the lights above the pool could be replaced.  The draining was necessary because the decking of the pool could not withstand the weight of the lifts needed to reach these lights. Therefore, the lifts had to operate on the dry pool floor. In the first number of years the center was open — a different process for reaching these lights was employed which involved pontoon boats with scaffolding mounted on them. It was eventually determined that the pontoon boat tactic proved to be an unsafe practice.

While seemingly wasteful, the reason these lights were replaced in a building that is going to be demolished is because the old center will remain open while the new center is being built.  This is to ensure that all the activities the center hosts can continue uninterrupted.

The new center will be built on the WAC field adjacent to the WAC center.  The construction currently in progress behind Sechrist Hall on San Francisco will replace the previous field.

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Construction workers are hard at work on Riley field before the school year starts. (Photo by Vanessa Marchena)

When the new center is completed the old WAC will be torn down and tennis courts will be constructed.

Construction will begin in April or May of next year.

Other construction news

The new addition to the Hot Spot will be opening. An architect for the firm who designed the addition was going over the punch list this Tuesday.  250 new seats have been added to the eatery.

Also, the new science building under construction just east of the communication building will take approximately 22 months to complete. Students may locate this construction site from many parts of campus because of the tower crane on site.  With that mention comes a warning. While this warning comes without full verification, word has reached the Lumberjack that students who see this tower as a source of adventure and daring, anyone attempting to climb it may well find themselves facing a felony charge though the university and the contractor are taking steps to hinder any efforts to climb it up with barbed wire fencing around the tower.

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