Anyone on the St. Ambrose campus and in the surrounding neighborhood knows one obvious change is happening to the school: the construction on Ambrose Hall. You can’t miss it. The maze-like building with multiple entrances is down to three accessible doors. Each day, 30 to 40 construction workers arrive on site to brave the intricate scaffolding that wraps around the building or to continue to work on the Beehive. And what exactly are they doing to the oldest building on campus?
Work is being done to the Beehive and to the exterior of Ambrose Hall. The bookstore coffee shop will be moved to the Beehive, where the old snack bar was located. The Beehive will have an updated sitting area with brand new furniture, picked by a committee of students, faculty and staff last spring. The game room, originally located in Rogalski Center, has been moved to a room in the back corner of the Beehive.
Mike Poster, vice president of finance, said estimates of completion for the five million dollar construction project are this December for the exterior and in early September for the Beehive. Progress on the coffee shop has been delayed by the discovery of damaged pipes beneath the floor which must be repaired before any new work can be done.
The outside of Ambrose Hall will see the repair or replacement of old bricks. The building’s roof and all of the windows are being replaced as well. The windows pose a challenge since Ambrose Hall has been added onto several times since 1885 when it was first built. The windows come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the year they were added. Additionally, the new windows were not delivered until the beginning of August, which delayed the project.
An architectual firm that specializes in historical renovation was hired to redo the exterior of Ambrose Hall. Keeping true to original image will include adding a clock to the Ambrose Hall steeple on the south side facing Locust Street. Bronze medallions will be placed on the other three sides. Poster hopes the bell in Ambrose Hall will put back into use and rung on special occasions. He will be in discussion with Father McDaniel, resident historian, to determine on which occasions the bell was rung in the past.
Meanwhile, the Beehive’s look has become more modern. The Beehive has been completely gutted, including the prominent spiral staircase. The staircase now runs parallel to the balcony and down to the floor in front of where the new coffee shop will be.
New couches, comfy chairs, high top tables, and even restaurant style booths are being added to the sitting area of the Beehive. New carpeting and colorfully painted walls decorate the room. TV’s will be placed on the walls and floor.
“We are anticipating the sitting area will be done sometime in early September,” Poster says.
When it is completed, the coffee shop will be run by Sodexo. Estimated coffee shop hours will be 7 a.m. to midnight, in response to student concern for late night food options. Coffee, leaf teas, smoothies, soup, salad, sandwiches and appetizers will be included on the menu.
“I hope to get good feedback on items people will like us to carry” Steve Finn, general manager of Sodexo Services, says.
Ambrose students look forward to the construction’s completion as well. Kemper Rusteberg, an international business student says he likes the way the university is updating its image. He remarks, however, that the transition could be smoother.
“The administration has not commented on loss of student space. In the meantime, they ought to provide a transitional space for students,” Rusteberg says. The SAU senior would also like to see some more detailed communication about the stages of construction.
Transitional classroom space is currently being set up for when classes must move out of the way for window replacement. These “swing rooms” will be in Galvin or the library and will serve as temporary classrooms for the day or week renovations occur in the original classrooms.
Poster remarks that the construction company will be informed during finals week and other important times of the year to begin late or hold off construction work for a short period of time.
“We know it’s a very stressful time for students; we don’t want to add stress,” Poster says.
Poster also encourages students to observe the construction signs and stay out of the fenced off areas.
All construction, including the coffee shop, is expected to be done by December