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ECU sees construction boom

(Sept. 21, 1994)   —   West of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, daylight shimmers through columns of exposed steel and concrete of Minges Coliseum. The 25 year-old building is getting some much needed care and attention, and, if buildings could smile, this one certainly would be wearing a happy face.
But happy faces abound on campus these days. At Minges and at other sites, crews are busy erecting brick, steel and mortar. Some sites are getting major facelifts while brand new structures rise from the campus sod in other locations.
With nearly $120 million earmarked for construction and new equipment projects, ECU is undergoing a building boom the likes of which it has not experienced in 87 years.
More than $11 million will freshen the look and give a “big league” atmosphere to Minges. The plans include air conditioning, a new playing floor and over 1,500 new seats that slope up from the floor to the rafters.
Elsewhere the changes are every bit as impressive, and perhaps, even more so. Interested in taking a brief tour? The bus is now leaving. All aboard!
Tall cranes sway near the southwest corner of campus where two mammoth building projects are under way. The Student Recreation Center, nearest to the downtown area, took six months of foundation work before steel girders materialized above mounds of fresh dirt. The spacious center covers nearly three-and-a-half acres with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, aerobic rooms, eight racquet courts and six basketball courts.
A few steps away, more cranes and earth movers are preparing the foundation for the addition to Joyner Library. This $30 million project was approved in last November’s bond referendum.
Included in the project are expanded student study areas, more room for books, an electronic information processing area and renovations to the current library structure. In about three years, the library and the recreation center promise an entirely new look and entrance way to the west end of campus that is expected to be both impressive and pleasing.
Continuing along the campus’s southwest perimeter, the construction tour marches for only a few more yards before reaching Slay and Umstead Residence Halls. These building sit now as vacant shells, but by late next spring they will look spiffy and inviting with over $6 million in new walls, fixtures, air conditioning, activities center and other attractive improvements.
From here, the tour takes a right turn on College Hill Drive. Half way up the hill, in a scenic wooded area, is the new Todd Dining Hall. The building, reminiscent of the architectural style of ECU’s early campus, opened this summer as a modern and efficient food preparation and dining facility.
Now, head back to the main campus and just roam a bit, but be careful!
The trenches and narrow tunnels give the impression of a giant gopher and biology experiment gone awry. Most of the digging sites are marked with yellow ribbon and have protruding tubes of orange and gray snaking onto the ground surface. This is part of the installation for the nearly $15 million fiber optic network that will open the campus to a whole new world of voice, video and computer data opportunities. The project, when completed, won’t change the way the campus looks, but will produce a near quantum leap for ECU into areas of new technologies.
These projects are just a handful of what amounts to a whole basket of improvements, more than 30, that range from roof repairs, to energy-saving light fixture replacements. Attention is also going to roads and walkways and