Construction crews have moved in on Southern Oregon University, with a number of projects taking shape this summer.

Construction crews have moved in on Southern Oregon University, with a number of projects taking shape this summer.

A $21 million upgrade of SOU's aging Science Building began this week, after faculty and staff moved their offices out of the building and into the Cascade complex, a building that formerly housed dorm rooms and a cafeteria.

The project, funded through the Oregon Legislature in 2011, will include seismic retrofitting, a new heating, ventilation and cooling system, plumbing and electrical updates and new windows.

The remodel will also include new science labs and updated study areas around the interior of the building.

"We're going to be creating some new student spaces," said Vice President for Finance and Administration Craig Morris.

Morris said they plan to update the lobby area that connects the two parts of the Science Building, but few changes are expected for the building's exterior unless the project runs under budget.

The remodel is being completed by Andersen Construction, which has offices in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, and will bring the structure up to a silver rating under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system.

Science classes will be held in the Cascade building through the 2014-15 school year, with the project expected to take 14 months and be completed before students return for classes in fall 2015, Morris said.

The Plunkett Center, on the farthest west side of campus, is getting a new roof at a cost of $118,000. The funding for this project came from $1.5 million SOU is awarded each biennium from the state to cover deferred maintenance costs.

"It's not a lot of money, and we decided it's Plunkett Center's turn," said Morris.

The center is home to the SOU Foundation, Alumni Relations and the Office of Development.

Also underway are renovations to Britt Hall. The campus is remodeling the second story of the building to better centralize the school's administration offices, creating the Britt Service Center, Morris said.

Employees that normally work in Britt Hall are currently set up in the computer lab.

The project will cost $339,000 and is being funded through state deferred maintenance money, Morris said.

SOU was also awarded $21.8 million from the legislature in March to fund renovations for McNeal Pavilion, home to SOU's athletic programs and gymnasium.

Morris said the project is just getting underway.

"We are just in the throes of selecting an architect," Morris said.

The school plans to use the same architect and construction crew for the McNeal Pavilion and a $17 million recreation center students voted to pay for.

The projects are being guided in part by a design committee made up of students, faculty and staff. Morris said the architect would be selected within a week, and he guessed that construction may begin in late spring of 2015.

Morris applauded the state for helping to fund construction on campus.

"The state is really making an effort to invest in our campus," said Morris. "It's a very exciting time for the infrastructure of SOU."

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at