EDWARDSVILLE — Winter is on its way, but there is still plenty of construction going on at local colleges.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has more than half a dozen major construction projects going on this year, and just broke ground on another at the dental school in Alton.
The dental school is getting a $9.5 million simulation laboratory that will allow predoctoral dental students to use a ceramic reconstruction room, X-ray room, casting and dispensing area and other laboratory facilities to practice their skills.
The Alton school is one of only two dental schools in the state of Illinois, and SIU President Glenn Poshard said the old lab wasn't large enough to adapt to new technologies for the students.
"This project signals a recommitment of SIU to deliver excellent and progressive health care," Poshard said.
The 18,000-square-foot, one-story lab will begin steel work over the winter.
But there's much more going on at SIUE and other colleges:
* SIUE leaders dedicated the Lukas Athletics Annex attached to the Vadalabene Center last week, adding 29,000 square feet for programming and office space, a strength and conditioning area, and teaching, research and computer laboratory space for the kinesiology department. The estate of Charles and Mary Lukas donated $4.2 million of the $5.4 million facility.
* The new 30,000-square-foot wing of the art and design building opened recently, including a new art gallery to replace the gallery in the university center that will close next year. Painting and drawing classes have already begun in the new $9 million wing, which is attached by an enclosed bridge to the older building. The art history, education and therapy disciplines will move over soon, and classes will begin there in January.
* Steel girders are being placed for the new 32,000-square-foot, four-story wing of the engineering building, expanding 12 years after its original construction. The $14.2 million expansion also is attached to the old building by an enclosed bridge.
* The long-awaited $72 million science building is expected to be completed during the spring term, and should be open for classes in the summer.
"It's been a long time coming, in the planning and in the construction," said Rich Walker, assistant vice chancellor for administration. "It's a four-story building that is very complex; every room is a laboratory of some kind, except for the offices."
Funding for the science building took more than a decade of lobbying the state and was for a long time the highest priority for capital improvement in the SIU system.
* A planned renovation of the university center is being delayed for a year after bids came back more than $250,000 over budget. The redesign is beginning and then the project will be re-bid, Walker said. The plan is to expand the Union Station convenience store into space currently occupied by offices, which will be moved into the former art gallery space on the second floor.
And at other colleges, work is continuing:
* Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville is close to completing a new Liberal Arts Compound, which will officially be in use for the spring semester. The 78,901-square-foot, three-story addition and 5,400-square-foot terrace was made possible with a $19.1 million state grant. It will house space for English, reading and speech, literature, foreign language, philosophy, film studies and mass communications classes, and includes 23 classrooms, computer labs, a 100-seat auditorium, media production studio, testing center, small-group study rooms, community education space, offices, a student lounge and a Starbucks coffee shop.
St. Clair County also is working on expansion of the Metro bike path and a crosswalk across Carlyle Road, as well as a bike bridge across Green Mount Road, to better assist SWIC students who may use bicycles for commuting, according to spokesman Jim Haverstick.
* Lewis & Clark Community College is completing Phase 2 of the new Jerry Costello Confluence Field Station.
* McKendree University has added new locker rooms at the Melvin Price Convocation Center on Alton Street, a 1,700-square-foot, $425,000 addition. Renovations also have continued at 225 N. Monroe St., formerly a church known as "the Gate," to house offices and one classroom. The university purchased Locust Hills Golf Course, and also renovated a former residence near the campus to house health services and counselors' offices.
It's a slower year for McKendree than last year, which saw the addition of two new residence halls on the north end of campus.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 239-2501.