By Marc R. Masferrer, University Communications and Marketing
Workers have reached a key moment in the construction of the first-ever residence hall on the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus. Crews have installed the first of almost 600 precast concrete panels that will make up the walls of the six-story, 100,000-square-foot student center and residence hall set to open for the fall 2024 semester.
“This is very exciting for all of us on the Sarasota-Manatee campus,” said campus Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook. “It is thrilling to watch the massive crane lift the walls into place, as the construction site is transformed into a building that we have wanted for so long.”
Installation of the panels, which began last week, will take about three months to complete.
Crews are using a 190-foot-tall crane — about twice the planned height of the new building — to lift and carefully anchor the concrete panels into place. The crane, which was assembled on site, is partially lowered each evening so as to not interfere with operations at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport across U.S. 41 from the campus.
“This week's construction activities mark a significant milestone in this project, bringing it closer to its physical form and emphasizing the tremendous effort and collaboration put in by numerous individuals to reach this stage,” said Jason Mitchell, vice president of client services for CORE Construction, the general contractor on the project. “Students will undoubtedly be astonished when they return to school later this summer, witnessing a remarkable transformation from a bare site at conclusion of last semester to a magnificent six-story structure taking shape before their eyes.”
Some details about the student center / residence hall project:
- The walls for the building, which is rising along Seagate Drive on the south side of the campus courtyard, will consist of 589 precast pieces, totaling 3,466 cubic yards.
- In general, a cubic yard of concrete weighs about 4,050 pounds — meaning the panels will weigh a total of more than 14 million pounds. The heaviest piece will weigh 55,300 pounds.
- It will take 460 trips to deliver all of the pieces from a concrete plant in Bartow where the panels are being assembled.
- The student center on the first two floors will include a ballroom, dining facilities, a bookstore, lounges, meeting spaces and offices for USF World, student government and other organizations.
- Architectural features in the student center will include large windows that will offer views of the campus, Sarasota Bay and Longboat Key.
- The top four floors will include residences in various configurations, with a total capacity of 200 students.
Site and foundation work for the $42 million project started in February. A ceremonial groundbreaking took place on March 1.
Former Sarasota-Manatee campus CEO Laurey Stryker, who visited the campus last week as the crane was being assembled, said she was excited to see the progress in the construction of the student center and residence hall.
“This is going to change things because all those students who said, ‘Boy, I wish I could have a full college experience, including a residential life,’ are going to have that, and are going to have that soon,” Stryker said.
Photography and video by Austin Lavoie, University Communications and Marketing.