January 2, 2004
In less than two months, 150 athletes and coaches from around the world will call Fort Kent, and more specifically, the University of Maine at Fort Kent's new residence hall their home away from home, and every indication is the larger wing of the new $7 million building will be ready for occupancy.
Representatives of Pizzagalli Construction Company, the general contractors heading the project, continue to assure UMFK campus officials that the south wing of the building, which has been promised to organizers of the upcoming 2004 Biathlon World Cup, will be complete for the competitors when they arrive in the first week of March.
"The project is going extremely well. We said from the beginning that we wanted it camera-ready, not just functional for the World Cup, and we have every indication it will be," said John Murphy, UMFK's vice president for administration.
According to Murphy, the project is going at such a fast pace and so many tradespersons are working on the facility, that Pizzagalli has called in a second project supervisor.
On any given day in the past few weeks, the three-story, 47,595 square foot facility has employed a construction crew numbering more than 75 workers. Included in that number have been 20 plumbers, a team of 20 drywall installers, 14 masons, and a dozen electricians.
"It is going extremely fast. There is a lot of coordination happening because of the number of trades working together to make this happen," said Scott Colton, UMFK's resident project representative. "We are looking into the possibility of expanding to a day and evening shift to ensure it is ready."
According to Colton, phase one of the project, which includes the larger south wing and center core or main entrance section of the building is 70 percent complete. The smaller north wing section, which comprises phase two and will be complete by early summer, is 40 percent complete.
Masons working on the brick exterior of the building are more than 50 percent done. Meanwhile crews working on the interior of the facility are working from the first floor up to the third floor to complete the section scheduled to be finished for the World Cup.
The first floor of that wing is already painted, while the second floor is partially painted and sheetrock work is being completed on the third floor.
Remaining to be done in the north wing are kitchen cabinets in the kitchenettes of each of the section's 26 two- and three-bedroom efficiency units, trim and finish work, floor coverings, window sills, as well as installation of electrical outlets and switches, and sprinkler system units.
As workers are completing the interior of the building, university officials are preparing to occupy the facility. Contracts for interior furnishings were awarded the week before Christmas, with delivery scheduled for mid-February, just in time for the World Cup.
When the first UMFK resident students occupy the building in the fall, the north wing will house 100 students, however, university and World Cup officials have agreed to use common living areas in each suite arrangement to accommodate the additional 50 athletes and coaches.
The residence hall facility was designed by Port City Architecture of Portland, and is being constructed by Pizzagalli, which is headquartered in Burlington, Vermont and has a Maine office in South Portland.
To ensure it would be complete in time for the World Cup, the project is being constructed using the design-build model, which requires the architect and contractor to present a single proposal, a first for the University of Maine System.