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University of Missouri

Renovating Responsibly

Maintenance and repair work is becoming a major problem at MU.

Mizzou repair and maintenance needs

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Rather than do Band-Aid building repairs over years, MU is renovating buildings top-to-bottom, which is more cost-efficient.

MU repair and maintenance costs

MU needs $284 million in major capital repairs, $212 million in deferred routine maintenance and $56 million in upgrades due to stricter building codes. The list totals $552 million. Photo illustration by Blake Dinsdale.

Whole-building renovation allows MU not only to fix what’s wrong but also to make the entire building better. The 2011 renovations of Tate and Switzler halls erased the buildings’ deferred maintenance and expanded their combined square footage by 12 percent, increased the number of classroom seats by 61 percent, and added five classrooms and 34 offices. Those improvements helped support the academic mission, which is what maintenance is all about, says Gary Ward, associate vice chancellor for facilities. The same strategy is being applied to Gwynn Hall, set to reopen in November 2013, and Swallow Hall is next. The Swallow work is part of the recently announced $23 million Renew Mizzou project. The initiative will upgrade Jesse Hall, including installation of a sprinkler system, and decommission Pickard Hall — portions of which were found to contain radiation from chemistry experiments conducted in the early 1900s.

Supporting the academic mission doesn’t require expensive building materials. Ward employs what he calls the stewardship model: using generally available, reasonably priced building materials. He wants any taxpayer or student, seeing what they’ve done with what they’ve spent, to say, “Well done.”

Falling Behind

61 percent increase in classroom seats from renovation of Tate and Switzler halls

Despite good stewardship, there’s not enough maintenance money to go around. Using the Facility Needs Index, Gary Ward estimates that by 2020, most buildings used for teaching and administration will fall into the “complete renovation” category. The reason, he says, is that Campus Facilities receives $30 million less than what consultants say is needed each year to maintain the 185 buildings under its care.

Indexing Needs

Campus Facilities uses a numerical index to track the condition of its buildings. The formula divides the cost of repairing a building by the cost of replacing it. If the repair cost is less than 30 percent of the replacement cost, it’s in good shape. If it’s higher than 40 percent, it needs to be completely renovated. If it’s more than 60 percent, most institutions would advise demolition, but that’s not always an option with historic buildings on MU’s campus.

MU building renovation needs