Gates Center construction on schedule

One year after the final plans for Carnegie Mellon’s new computer science complex were unveiled, construction continues. The complex will eventually hold the Gates Center and its accompanying, still-unnamed research building in the area between Newell-Simon Hall and the Purnell Center for the Arts.

Currently, concrete walls are going up for the complex’s underground, 150-car garage, which can be viewed from Purnell.

This is the first step of the project; the entire complex is expected to be completed in 2009.

The project is completely on schedule, said Ralph Horgan, associate vice-provost of campus design and facility development.

“The next step after the construction of the concrete garage will be steel going up around February,” Horgan said. This means that construction will move from foundational elements to the actual structure of the buildings.

Construction on the building should have begun last January; however, the university was unable to sign a construction team until March because of rising budget costs, said Guy Blelloch, associate dean for planning in the School of Computer Science.

The price increase in steel and concrete, along with some structural changes that were made to the design increased construction costs, Blelloch said.

Rather than alter the construction plan to fit the existing budget, Carnegie Mellon’s Board of Trustees approved a 10 percent increase in the project’s budget. This translated into an additional $9 million in funds, which ensured that crews could begin construction, and the university signed a construction company several months ago.

Even so, Horgan says the project is on schedule.

“We have maintained our goals,” he said of the budget changes.

Blelloch and Horgan said almost nothing has been done to alter the design of the complex.

The complex has also been designed to be environmentally progressive. The university plans to seek Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the complex from the U.S. Green Building Council, according to an Oct. 12 university press release.

Another important development in the project is naming the bridge that will connect the Purnell Center for the Arts to the Gates Center portion of the SCS complex. The bridge will be named after computer science professor Randy Pausch, which Cohon announced following Pausch’s lecture in McConomy Auditorium on Sept. 18.

Pausch is the co-founder of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), which works jointly with the College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science to offer a two-year master’s program in entertainment technology.

The bridge will be symbolic of the way in which the ETC program melds the disciplines of art and technology, Horgan said.

“[The complex] will add tremendously to the campus,” Horgan said.