Anatomy of a campus construction project

“You move things around in the design rather than in the field. It’s an enormous advantage, because we can build your building much more smoothly than we could without this [technology],” LaPosta said.

Presenting a 3D model of a campus construction project like UA’s South Hall also helps presidents, provosts, and the university’s board of trustees better understand the intricacies of the finished product.

“Once we finalize on a design, [3D modeling] helps sell it,” Curtis said. “Any time you can move people through the presentation, it’s an exciting medium.”

Traditional architectural sketches and designs have never been layperson friendly, LaPosta said.

“The owner can get a 3D view so they really understand it,” he said. “People struggle to translate building plans, for good reason. For an average person, to look at traditional building plans is a little unclear. You don’t have that with [3D modeling].”

For more campus construction news, see:

‘Building Excellence’ section of eCampus News Online

JCJ architects who worked on the UA project said their South Hall design was based partly on observations from other campus residence halls built over the past decade.


UA officials noticed that students gravitated to residence halls’ laundry rooms as a social hub during parts of the school day, so JCJ made sure to combine South Hall’s laundry room with a lounge area.

“You can hang out while you’re doing your laundry,” LaCosta said. “Doing that was necessary because the laundry room had been a popular place to go and talk. … We wouldn’t have known that without taking a look at other [residence halls].”

Designers and architects, before submitting finalized plans for the university’s newest residence hall, agreed to include red and brown brick, stone, and plenty of glass to relay a sense of transparency.

“We wanted something that gives it dignity and permanence and an untiring style of architecture,” Curtis said.

Don’t wake the students

JCJ decision makers and UA officials said they wanted to avoid two inconveniences during construction of South Hall. They didn’t want heavy construction machinery clunking around the south edge of campus at all hours of the morning, and they didn’t want the project to create a circuitous detour for students, faculty, staff, and especially visitors.

Bruce Kellogg, project manager for JCJ Architecture, said the noisiest construction equipment wasn’t permitted to work on South Hall before 8 a.m., even when other parts of construction started hours earlier.

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