Space plans take shape, but some details are still uncertain
Construction is scheduled to begin around the middle of next year on a new Foothills Lab building, as the organization moves ahead with its space plans.
The 80,000-square-foot building, known as FL0, should be ready for occupancy in the second half of 2005. It will house the offices and labs of the Atmospheric Chemistry Division, which is currently based in the Mesa Lab.
Once that piece falls into place, other elements can be implemented. The Climate and Global Dynamics Division (CGD), for example, will move from the Mesa Lab’s A Tower to B Tower, and parts of the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG) and Education and Outreach will relocate to the mesa.
UCAR is also renovating the headquarters building at Center Green, known as CG1, and building an 20,000-square-foot addition to it. Once that work is completed, the High Altitude Observatory will move there from FL2. (For more details on the potential movement of NCAR divisions, see box.)
The movement of offices and labs stems from UCAR’s purchase of three buildings on Center Green Drive in September 2002. The new buildings will relieve crowded conditions in FL and ML and accommodate anticipated growth over the next few years.
In addition to winning city approval earlier this year for the construction of FL0, UCAR also has a green light from the city for the addition to CG1. A much-anticipated paved bicycle and pedestrian path that will link the FL and CG campuses is also expected to be approved, although input is required from four entities: the city of Boulder, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, Colorado Department of Transportation, and Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in a fairly short amount of time,” says UCAR associate vice president for business services Jeff Reaves, who is helping to oversee the space plans.
Several important details still need to be worked out, however.
FL4 staffers had been scheduled to move to CG1 in mid-November so refurbishment could begin on their building. The President's Council had allocated roughly $1.4 million for the FL4 project budget based on preliminary estimates from Finance & Administration. In mid-October, however, UCAR vice president for corporate affairs and UOP director Jack Fellows, along with Finance & Administration staff, agreed to postpone the move roughly six weeks while seeking better estimates of the entire project. "This is an important project and we just didn't feel comfortable with the fidelity of the current estimates,” Jack explains. “It appears that those earlier estimates are not sufficient to accommodate the remodel design and some extensive building infrastructure updates the city is now requiring."
The remodeling team is looking at both the building design and infrastructure updates to determine whether to start the project now or delay it a few years while UCAR raises sufficient funds through a new bond issuance. "It was regrettable that we faced this situation, but it is important for us to have full confidence in these construction estimates before we proceed," Jack explains. He hopes for a decision in early December on whether to go forward or delay the project.
The FL4 delay could have other impacts. If the refurbishment cannot proceed soon, FL4 staffers may have to occupy HAO space in FL2 after HAO moves to CG1 or set up temporary offices in CG3. Alternatively, UCAR may rent additional offices as swing space.
“When you have something like the situation with FL4, it has ripple effects and you have to go back and realign,” Jeff explains.
Another major uncertainty is the NCAR realignment and its impact on several divisions (see “Time for a Realignment?” in the September issue of Staff Notes Monthly). If ESIG expands significantly under the plan, FL1 will not be able to accommodate both it and the Atmospheric Technology Division. The solution will likely be to house some ESIG scientists in FL1 (particularly those who collaborate with the Research Applications Program and Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division) and some scientists in ML (those who collaborate with CGD).
Administrators also need to determine where to house new entities that may be created under the realignment, such as an institute that could provide mathematical support on major projects. The decisions will be made as the realignment comes into focus next year.
Space issues are likely to stay on the front burner for years as UCAR anticipates its current staff of about 1,400 expanding to more than 1,800, assuming federal funding is available to support the growth. •David Hosansky