What's happening this summer on your corner of campus?

workers chisel masonry from fountain pool

A team from Neumann Brothers chisel away masonry from the original fountain pool on the Memorial Union north lawn last week. Replacing the pool while the four maiden sculptures are replicated out of state is one of campus' visible summer construction projects. Photo by Christopher Gannon.


For a considerable team of project managers and construction site managers in facilities planning and management, the "quiet" summer months are an opportunity to make tracks on their bigger projects and squeeze in some contained-to-summer projects. Inside provides a quick look at a dozen or so projects starting, finishing -- or both -- this summer, with our thanks to the managers who shared their project updates with us.

Summer projects

Cyclone soccer field: New playing surface

The existing synthetic turf and rock drainage system have been removed, and installation continues on an irrigation system and gravel and sand underlayers (2) for a new grass competition field for the Cyclone soccer squad. Sometime in mid-July, sod grown at Iowa State's horticulture research station north of Ames will be cut, rolled and installed at the Cyclone Sports Complex. This process was piloted in May 2022 in Jack Trice Stadium. The soccer team will compete on its new field this fall.

The $1.5 million project includes drainage improvements to a soccer practice area southeast of the competition field.

ROTC obstacle course installation

Iowa State is installing an official U.S. Marine Corps obstacle course ("O" course) at the Southwest Athletic Complex for training use by ISU midshipmen, cadets and active-duty personnel. The 40-foot by 350-foot course contains seven major obstacles, up to 20 feet tall, built onsite by the contractor of timber, rope and pipes on a wood chip field. For safety and security reasons, the course will be fenced and identified with signage. Site preparation work began in May and the university will dedicate the facility in September. The $485,000 project includes a lead gift from math alumnus Rick Burnett Jr., and the course will be named in memory of his dad, Richard H. Burnett Sr., also an Iowa State alumnus. Other private gifts support this project.

Repairs to the exterior of Curtiss Hall

A summer project to repair and restore the exterior of Curtiss Hall is about 35% complete and will wrap up in early September. The work includes cleaning the stone and masonry, repairing or replacing cracked and deteriorated stone, repointing mortar and replacing the building sealant. The $505,000 project cost is covered by university capital renewal funds.

Memorial Union fountain and pool replacement

Part of a larger project to replicate Christian Petersen's famed Fountain of the Four Seasons sculpture on the Memorial Union north lawn, its concrete pool, fountain base, mechanical pit and tunnel, and pool lighting will be replaced this summer, and the fountain's mechanical and electrical systems upgraded. Last week, crews removed seating and masonry over the pool basin so the pool's form can be 3D-scanned and rebuilt with historical accuracy.

Replicated sculptures of the four maidens and terra cotta ring, the fountain and new base and new pool will be completed and reassembled next spring and, following appropriate curing of the concrete and grout components, the fountain will be turned on for the first time since November 2022. The budget for the entire project is $2.6 million.

Wrapping up this summer

Marketplace dining center on Union Drive

A four-phase, $5.5 million project to renovate the various food preparation stations and seating areas of the largest dining center on campus, will wrap up by early August. The project began in the summers of 2019 and 2021 with remodels of the mezzanine and west dining area, respectively. Work this summer and last summer replaced food venues and the room finishes in the east dining areas.

Tree planting in football gameday RV lot

One hundred trees, representing about eight species selected by campus landscape architects for their compatibility with the Ioway Creek floodplain, have been planted in the parking area at the east end of the Gateway Bridge. This is the final piece of last summer's project to install a designated parking area for 337 recreational vehicles. This month, athletics also added a north-south bike path that runs from the South Fourth Street entrance to the RV lot to South 16th Street, where the path ties in to the city's bike path to the ISU Research Park.

West campus parking lot expansion

Parking lots 1 (south of State Gym) and 10 (west of Town Engineering) grew by about 60 stalls each to replace stalls in lot 3 (south of Howe Hall), the site of the under-construction Therkildsen facility. Lot 1 is complete and Lot 10 will be complete by Aug. 1. A related project to move Sheldon Avenue's intersection with Pammel Drive west to create space for a larger lot 10 was slowed by a soil quality question, but the intersection should be paved and ready to reopen by late July. These projects are part of the $70 million Therkildsen project budget.

Beginning this summer

Memorial Union: Remodeling on second and third floors

Previously two projects, these two remodels will proceed as a single project with one contractor and timeline, following approval from the state Board of Regents last week. Its two components are:

Near the west end of the second floor, the open area leading to Col. Pride Lounge, including the lounge itself, MU desk, former postal counter, restroom and several small offices will be opened up, modernized and furnished to serve multiple student needs for studying, eating meals, small group collaborating or just hanging out.

The top floor of the 1970s section of the building that connects the Memorial Union to its parking ramp will be remodeled for two student service units within the Dean of Students umbrella currently housed in the Student Services Building. Following demolition of existing interior dividers, each suite will include a kitchen, living room/lounge, staff offices, meeting rooms, computer lab and graduate student suite. DOS units also will have access to a larger event space for lectures or other programming, with room for about 60 people. The corridor connecting the ramp to the building will be redone to closely resemble the second-floor hallway below it.

Heating and cooling systems in both areas will be updated. The $6.55 million cost will be covered with university and MU funds. The bid date for contractors is July 18, and if it's successful, work would begin in August and conclude in August 2024.

Stephens Auditorium: A set of accessible restrooms

Eight single-user accessible restrooms will be constructed on the ground floor in the southwest corner of the building, and two existing ramps to reach this area will be redone. The offstage area being repurposed formerly was a workshop and storage for stage lights, so the project includes building a customized storage loft directly above the new restrooms to retain that access to the back of the Stephens stage. The scheduled bid date is June 29 and if it's successful, work could begin by late July and wrap up in mid-December. Private gifts and a federal grant for venue operators shuttered during the pandemic will pay for the $950,000 project.

Relocating textile research labs from LeBaron Hall

This project bid successfully last week and demolition could begin as early as July. It moves several textiles research labs on the first and second floors of LeBaron Hall to create three new shared labs on the second floor (north wing) of the adjacent Human Nutritional Sciences Building. The College of Human Sciences plans to replace LeBaron Hall, so relocating some of its critical facilities and programs begins that process.

The remodeled space will feature new walls, interior finishes, fume hoods and mechanical rooftop equipment, building automation controls and plumbing. The college will move two large pieces of equipment to the remodeled space: a comfort lab environmental chamber for assessing fabrics and a 3D body scanner. The $2.1 million cost is part of the LeBaron Hall replacement project budget.

Ongoing projects

Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, phase 1

The first phase of a new home for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has been under construction at the College of Veterinary Medicine since spring 2021 and is on schedule for occupancy by the end of the calendar year. The exterior is complete; painting and flooring work inside likely will continue into early September, at which point furniture and lab equipment -- some new, some from the current lab space -- will be installed.

Planning has begun for an estimated $66.5 million phase 2 to the lab, which will put all VDL operations in one facility. The 2023 Legislature approved $18 million in state support for it in fiscal year 2024, and in January, Gov. Kim Reynolds pledged $40 million in state support from funds directed to Iowa in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the U.S. Congress' third major pandemic recovery package.

CYTown parking and infrastructure, phase 1

The project will replace parking lots and lighting, and install underground utilities including water, electricity, gas, data and communications, storm sewer and sanitary sewer for future building development in the Iowa State Center south parking area. The project also relocates the CyRide transit facility permanently to the northeast corner of the lots along a north-south lot lane named CYTown Lane, and adds fill dirt to build up areas designated for buildings to ensure building pads are five feet above the 100-year flood elevation of nearby Ioway Creek.

The 16 numbered lots south of Center Drive have been reconfigured into 12 lots and numbered for consistency. All but two of them will be available for the 2023 football season. Five new lots (D3-5 and C4-5) will be completed by mid-August. Two lots (B4-5) will remain under construction this fall and completed next summer with the two remaining lots in phase 1 (A4-5). The remaining three lots (A3, B3, C3) would be addressed in a future phase 2. The $28.5 million cost of phase 1 will be covered by athletics department funds, university investment funds and private gifts.

Therkildsen Industrial Engineering Building

Work on the future home of the industrial and manufacturing systems engineering department began northwest of Beyer Hall in December 2022, and the building is scheduled to open in the spring of 2025. A poured concrete foundation and basement slab are in, and work on erecting the building’s steel framework will begin in July. The building is five levels (four above ground), with the basement and half of the top floor designated for mechanical and storage. The $70 million project is covered with private gifts, including a $42 million lead gift from alumni C.G. "Turk" and Joyce Therkildsen, and university funds.

Converting last coal boiler to natural gas

The remaining coal boiler in the ISU power plant, which has 15-20 years of service left, is being converted for natural gas burning, a process completed last summer on the other coal boiler. Three natural gas boilers, installed in 2015, are sufficient for campus operations this time of year.

The coal and limestone-handling equipment has been removed, and crews currently are installing the gas burners and control systems for the boiler. These new instruments then will be tested for function and accuracy, with the goal of putting the converted boiler into operation in October.

All ash byproduct from burning coal and lime has been removed and that collection system can be removed after the construction team departs. Two nearby coal storage lots will be restored, likely in the 2024-25 timeframe. The $16 million cost is covered by ISU's utility reserve fund and an internal university loan.