Student Voice


May 26, 2024


Construction mystery solved, it’s a chilled water line

October 31, 2014

Construction continues on a chilled water line that will bring cool water to the North Hall auditorium, which is currently under renovation.
Construction continues on a chilled water line that will bring cool water to the North Hall auditorium, which is currently under renovation. (Jack Haren/Student Voice)

It started as what looked like a small sidewalk modification, now there are giant digging machines pulling up the ground, so why in the world are they digging in the middle of campus?

Many students frequently cross campus to get to classes or go to the University Center and maybe your routine path has been disrupted by the construction instructing students to “go around.” There must be gold in the ground, right?

UW-River Falls student Annie Wildenauer sat down in front of the site to do some homework outside. She said she was just about to take a Snapchat photo to show people her “beautiful view.”

Wildenauer was talking about the fencing, dirt and construction machines that clutter the campus lawn between the Kleinpell Fine Arts building, University Center and Davee Library.

“I have absolutely no idea. I thought at first that they were doing some kind of side-walk work, but I don’t think that is what it is,” said Wildenauer, when asked for her speculation on what it was all for.

Student Andrew Hirschui has his own opinion on what the construction team is doing there: “It looked before like they were fixing some pipes underground, other than that it looks like they’re just tearing up the campus and creating piles of dirt. We’ll see, hopefully it’s something awesome.”

Well actually no, they’re not digging for gold or just creating piles of dirt on campus. A chilled water line extension for North Hall is being completed. Not as glamorous as digging for gold, but it will allow for cooling in the North Hall and more specifically the North Hall auditorium, which is currently being renovated.

The Kleinpell Fine Arts building and Davee Library are already connected in this cooling line; this final 200-foot stretch was something that Facilities and Planning Director Mike Stifter knew was a necessary project to complete as construction on the auditorium itself is taking place.

Next spring, Stifter says they will be able to activate the line, and that it will primarily be for summer cooling in the North Hall auditorium. This will be the first time in 100 years that North Hall will be cool during the warmer months.

The project should wrap up in the next few weeks, according to Stifter.

“Concrete is difficult to get a hold of right now. The two largest suppliers in the world, or at least in the nation, have combined and so it affects the overall supply of cement mix,” Stifter said.

That has caused a little bit of a setback as far as completing the project. Projects like this can, in some cases, effect tuition cost.

“No tuition dollars and really no campus dollars go into the funding of this,” Stifter said.

Projects like this can in a roundabout way effect student fees because it is funded with state tax dollars. Stifter said that they had looked into extending the piping into the University Center to add chilled water in addition to the chiller that is already on the roof just for redundancy purposes. That portion may have been funded with student fee dollars but they decided against that for now due to the tight timeline for project completion.

The university is hoping to wrap-up the project in the next couple weeks, according to Stifter. It will hopefully be all back together by mid-November.