Latest updates on University of Kentucky building construction

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The University of Kentucky is near the finish line on two major construction projects, Frazee Hall and the Gray Design […]

The University of Kentucky is near the finish line on two major construction projects, Frazee Hall and the Gray Design Building.

Construction on Frazee Hall was completed earlier this semester, and employees began moving into the offices this month. The building was completely modernized and includes a connector to the Gatton Student Center. Offices related to students services are now located in Frazee Hall, including Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Office of Student Conduct and Residence Life.

COVID delayed construction, but it’s now open to employees and students, said Mary Vosevich, vice president for facilities management and chief facilities officer.

Design building nearing completion

The Gray Design Building, formerly the Reynolds Building, is also nearing completion. The future home of the College of Design will be “substantially complete” in January, Vosevich said.

The building, constructed more than a century ago, was once a tobacco warehouse. It was acquired by UK and home to the university’s art department in the 1960s, but vacated about a decade ago because it was in need of major renovations. Last year, a $5 million donation from Gray Inc., the construction and engineering company owned by the Gray family, made renovations possible.

Construction was halted earlier this year after human remains were found on the construction site, but resumed in August.

Construction is underway on the Reynolds Building on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.
Construction is underway on the Reynolds Building on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. Ryan C. Hermens [email protected]

Vosevich said employees and students will be able to move into the building around spring break. The new building will include studio space for design students, as well as collaboration spaces and faculty offices. It will be the first time the college has housed all of its programs in one building, giving opportunities for collaboration between programs and students.

“That building has been in the process of renovations for years,” Vosevich said. “It’s moving along really nice. It’s going to be a nice space for our students.”

Big updates for Memorial Coliseum

One of the most dramatic construction projects on campus is Memorial Coliseum, which has been gutted for major renovations. The $82 million renovation is being done in two phases, the first of which is on track to be completed by August 2024, said Wayne Thomas, capital construction director.

Renovations are underway at Memorial Coliseum on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, October. 27, 2023.
Renovations are underway at Memorial Coliseum on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, October. 27, 2023. Ryan C. Hermens [email protected]

The second phase, which includes more “back-of-the-house” projects, will be complete by spring of 2025, Thomas said.

The project is a complete overhaul of the facility, but will include upgrades like air conditioning, new locker rooms, updated practice facilities and upgraded technology. The addition of air conditioning also means the facility will be able to be used year-round for events, like speakers and athletics, Vosevich said.

“To be able to use that facility year-round is just the best thing you can do,” Vosevich said.

Health Education Building

Plans are in motion for what will become UK’s largest academic building. The Health Education Building will be 515,000 square feet and home to programs in four health colleges: medicine, public health, health sciences and nursing.

UK held a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this year, and the design phase of the project is scheduled to be complete during the first quarter of 2024. Construction will begin next year, with the project scheduled to be completed by 2026.

A rendering of the new Health Education Building at the University of Kentucky, scheduled to open in 2026. The building will house four health care colleges at UK, and will be the largest academic building on campus.
A rendering of the new Health Education Building at the University of Kentucky, scheduled to open in 2026. The building will house four health care colleges at UK, and will be the largest academic building on campus. Provided by University of Kentucky

The building will be located at the corner of Hugulet Drive and University Drive, between campus and UK hospitals. To make room for the new building, Kelley Hall will be taken down, Vosevich said. Kelley Hall is “a really old building,” and is home to facilities management for the medical center, which will be relocated, she said.

UK HealthCare projects

There are several UK HealthCare projects in early phases, including the new cancer center that will be located on South Limestone. The project will be built in several phases, and is currently going through the design process, Thomas said.

Some construction will start in the next two to three months on Elizabeth Street to improve the traffic flow for the future building. The design phase will continue through the summer, with major construction starting next fall. It is expected to be completed at the beginning of 2027, Thomas said.

The outpatient medical facility in Hamburg is still in “very preliminary” stages, Vosevich said. The board of trustees approved the purchase of land in Hamburg, and initiated the design phase earlier this year.

Original plans included a new regional hospital facility, medical office building and clinical facilities, with a focus on making outpatient care easier to access in Lexington.

Future construction projects

Another construction project to look for in the coming years is the modernization of White Hall, a major building on campus that is home to nearly 60 classrooms. The building will not be used starting this summer, giving UK time to completely renovate it. Construction is expected to be complete by the summer of 2026, giving new life to a building that many students use, Thomas said.

White Hall is “a total student facility,” so upgrading it will be a large undertaking with exciting results, Vosevich said.

“I’ve been told that if you went to school at the University of Kentucky, you had at least one class there,” Vosevich said.

Conversations have also started about the potential to add new dorms on campus, Vosevich said. While there is nothing official in the works, UK has been looking at its options for expanding housing.

The university has had housing shortages for the last several years, including this year. UK converted multipurpose rooms in dorms into living spaces, as well as launching the TRI-IT pilot program that converted two-bedroom, two-person suites into three-bedroom suites. While that worked for this year, UK is considering more permanent solutions.

“We hope our enrollment’s growing, so we’re looking at what’s next, and can we build a new residence hall,” Vosevich said.

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Monica Kast covers higher education for the Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. Previously, she covered higher education in Tennessee for the Knoxville News Sentinel. She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky, and is a graduate of Western Kentucky University.
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