Upgrades to campus facilities affect students

Campus facilities made many changes over the break that are now affecting students.


Several changes and updates are progressing on campus, causing some students to go without air conditioning and access to restroom facilities. | Courtesy of biola.edu

Augusta McDonnell, Writer


Several changes and updates are progressing on campus, causing some students to go without air conditioning and access to restroom facilities. | Courtesy of biola.edu


Interterm was a busy time for facilities management officials. In addition to continued work on the new upper campus parking structure, every effort was taken to complete utility relocation work in preparation for construction of Central plant projects and the new dorm — temporarily named North Hall.

Dorms on upper campus, including Horton, Sigma and Alpha Halls, as well as the facilities management building were anticipated to experience suspension of some utilities services throughout the break. However, some of the work spilled over into the new semester, according to Brian Phillips, senior director of operations for facilities management.

Support for new infrastructure

Power and water utility lines were relocated during Christmas break to make way for construction of the new dorm which breaks ground later this spring, said Jody Spicer, construction manager for facilities management.

The new dorm, along with the anticipated new science and health building, will be drawing power and cooling/heating services from the central plant. This structure is Biola’s source for heat, cooling and power, located behind Crowell Hall.

Recently, two 600-ton chillers located at the central plant were removed and replaced with two 900-ton chillers, Spicer said. This upgrade is necessary to accommodate the needs of the upcoming infrastructure.

Reduced cooling goes unnoticed

During the switch, only minimal air conditioning was available to upper campus, according to Spicer. Many buildings on upper campus were temporarily without cooling. Middle and lower campus’ cooling was provided by the remote chiller behind the library, explained Spicer.

“We didn’t receive any complaints,” Phillips said of the air conditioning turnoff. All affected dorms and buildings were informed of the turn-off prior to the event.

Dorm bathrooms take hit from water shut-off

Shut-off of water services to some upper campus dorms occurred Friday, Jan. 31. A suburban water line in the way of a central plant project needed to be relocated. The project upgraded the chillers and added a supporting wall to the cooling towers. The shut-off lasted from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Phillips.

Caitlin Curmin, a sophomore liberal studies major, was living in Horton at the time.


“I made sure to get up at seven and shower and left [for the day],” she said. “People still used the bathrooms, and it got pretty gross.”

Again, an email was sent to all students who would be affected prior to the shut-off, Philips said.

Updates to campus infrastructure

Facilities management continues to make renovations and upgrades to older infrastructure on campus, including the scheduled maintenance work that is continually made every summer, Phillips said.

The ground floor parking of Biola’s Lido and Beachcomber apartments was retrofitted with steel frame tuck-unders in January that provide more stability in the case of an earthquake, according to Phillips. They are anticipated to be completed at the end of February. He added that the Rosecrans No. 4 apartments parking retrofit will be started soon after.

Phillips explained that a new storage building by the pool that began construction in December will be completed by the end of February. This structure will be used by chapel programs and event services.

Upcoming additions to the central plant will expand the cooling tower to support the newly installed chillers, which are larger than before, Phillips said. Groundbreaking will begin in the next couple of weeks as soon as the building permit has cleared. This project will make parking in Lot N unavailable for most of this semester, mostly affecting resident parking near Horton Hall.

“The good news is, all utilities have been relocated, so there shouldn’t be any more water interruptions,” Phillips said.


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