With the renovation of historic Francis Hall under way, the Department of Construction Science at Texas A&M University is well on its way to acquiring a state-of-the-art academic facility dedicated to construction teaching, research and industry service.
The first stand-alone building for construction education in Texas, located in the heart of the College Station campus, Francis Hall will aid the preparation of students for leadership positions in and effective management of all aspects of the construction and project delivery process in one of the nation’s largest industries.
A capital campaign to raise the department’s $5 million share of the $10 million project was quickly reached and a contract to renovate the building was awarded September 2013 to Satterfield & Pontikes Construction of Houston, Texas. A decision to enhance the building’s energy efficiency by replacing all its windows and insulating and waterproofing its exterior walls resulted in an increase of the project’s budget.
The campaign has been a true investment partnership of the university, the private sector and former students for the future of the construction industry. Since launching the campaign with the approval of the Texas A&M System Board of Regents in February 2012, Joe Horlen, head of the Department of Construction Science, has led fundraising efforts attracting numerous company and individual contributions totaling $4.5 million as of March 2014.
“Once again, the strong and generous support of our construction industry partners has made it possible for the program to continue improvement and be the best construction education program in the nation,” said Horlen. “The close ties we have with the industry are vital to our success in every way and makes it possible for us to graduate students that are consistently in high demand.”
A list of the companies and individuals that have provided financial support to the renovation effort, along with naming opportunities for specific building spaces is available online.
After interior demolition of the 94-year-old building was completed, construction science students began touring the structure every two weeks to learn about and appreciate the methods and materials used in the building’s 1918 construction and 1950 addition. As interior reconstruction proceeds, students will be able to see each phase of the process, including the installation of the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
The project’s scheduled completion in fall 2014 is well timed for a projected rise in the department’s two degree programs to more than 800 students, with more than 250 graduates each year. Francis Hall will significantly increase the department’s space with more classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, conference rooms, study collaboration areas, and meeting spaces for student organizations.
The renovated building will feature an auditorium named after Bob Segner, professor of construction science, who has taught students, many of whom are now leaders in the construction industry, since 1970. Donations from former students to honor the highly esteemed professor have reached $650,000 toward a goal of $1 million. Donors also have an opportunity to purchase and name one of the seats in the auditorium.
For more information on the fundraising campaign, contact Joe Horlen at 979.458.3477 or visit the Francis Hall Building Campaign website.