Florida Construction News staff writer
A renovation has begun on one of the University of South Florida’s (USF) most iconic structures.
The 26-year-old water tower on the Tampa campus is being repaired after no significant construction improvements for more than a decade.
The 212-foot tall tower pressurizes and supplies drinking water to most buildings on the USF campus. Its revitalization is one of the most publicly recognizable projects being funded by an investment of about $73 million in the 2022 state budget to support USF’s capital renewal program, which addresses a part of the school’s deferred maintenance needs.
The university consulted all campuses — USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee — to identify 87 critical projects. Most pertain to utility and plant operations, such as electrical, fire alarm and HVAC systems, as well as roof repair and replacement.
USF recently unveiled an interactive map identifying locations of each project and tracking construction status. It can be found online at https://www.usf.edu/administrative-services/facilities/facilities-information-services/maps.aspx.
“The 87 projects on this list represent the greatest needs of our aged and/or failed infrastructure across the three USF campuses,” said Scot Berrian, assistant director of Design and Construction, Office of Administrative Services.
At least 40 percent of the roofs on the Tampa campus are at or beyond the recommended age for replacement, USF noted.
“What the USF community is not always aware of are the critical infrastructure and utility systems that support the entire campus,” added Hari Patel, director of Facilities Information Services. “More than half of this funding is going to projects that support utility infrastructure or multiple facilities. We wanted to bring transparency and awareness to the USF community about these projects and the areas they will impact.”
Heat, ventilation and air conditioning needs also are being addressed with the replacement of 12 HVAC systems, although most of the work will not begin until early next year.
The John and Grace Allen building, the first building to be constructed when the university was established in 1956 has been identified as the highest need since the roof has never been replaced.
“Over the nine years that I’ve worked in the Allen Building, we have had several leaks from the roof into classrooms and offices,” said Charles Adams, dean of the Judy Genshaft Honors College. “The HVAC system similarly needs a complete overhaul. We are very grateful to the state for providing funding so that these conditions can finally be addressed.”
The USF campus projects are set to be completed throughout the next three years, with the revitalized water tower ready by the start of the 2023 fall semester.
The Office of Administrative Services is working closely with the Office of Supplier Diversity in its efforts to promote upcoming construction work opportunities.