Planning for Clinical Health Sciences building resumes while smaller projects remain on hold

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Photo by Miami University

An artist’s rendering of Miami’s $96 million Clinical Health Sciences facility, on which construction is scheduled to begin in January.

By Mia Lee

Work on Miami University’s $96 million Clinical Health Sciences building, which paused last spring when the campus shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has now begun to move ahead, according to Cody Powell, Miami’s associate vice president for facilities, planning and operations.

Planning for the facility, which will be located behind Phillips Hall and Goggin Ice Arena, and also will incorporate the site of the existing student health center, resumed in July. As of now, construction is set to begin in January, 2021, according to Powell. The project will contain new labs, patient clinics, classrooms and offices for staff and faculty.

When the university closed the campus in March, it had to refund $15 million in housing and food fees to students who had to leave the dormitories. A 40 percent reduction in students living on campus this fall and other COVID-19 related expenses created cash-flow concerns, said Powell. 

During construction, the university plans to move student health services temporarily into Harris Hall, 500 Harris Dr. 

”We are proceeding, we are in the design phase,” said Marilyn Heflin, current capital project manager for the Clinical Health Building. The project is expected to be completed sometime in 2021. 

Moving the health center at this point is a concern, but as long as the virus remains under control and the campus remains open, the project should be able to keep to its new schedule, Powell said. 

“We’re a little nervous obviously about making that decision. I mean, we’re talking about moving our Student Health Services during a pandemic. And so, we’re being very cautious about that,” Powell said.

Other, smaller, renovation and construction projects on campus remain on hold, as the university waits for the economic situation brought on by COVID-19 to stabilize. This includes Dodds Hall at 600 Maple St., King Library renovations, traffic and pedestrian improvements along the campus section of High Street and the Equestrian center at 4950 Oxford Trenton Road. 

These projects, including the South Quad Campus Living buildings, are currently in the design phases. Residents who previously lived in these unrenovated dorms have reported instances with unsanitary living conditions such as mold, cockroaches and flooding in the lower basement area.

The $50 million STEM building project located at 700 E High St. will cost $50 million and started planning phases in January of 2019. By June of this year, the programming had been completed and design phases are being developed with Criteria AE firm. Construction hasn’t started yet nor have construction dates been set.

Some construction projects were completed this year despite the pandemic. Renovations to Harris Hall, Pearson Hall at 700 E. High St. and Stanton Hall at 700 Maple St., were completed during May and August. These projects were allowed to move ahead to completion as they were already ahead of schedule when the pandemic struck, according to a report made this summer to the Miami University Board of Trustees.