North District Utility Plant chiller

by Abbie Leland

Chilled water plants, like the recently-completely North District Utility Plant located on the Corvallis campus, are a forward-thinking approach to supplying water to buildings. These utility plants distribute water. The NDUP was designed with modern, energy-efficient chillers and cooling towers. This type of design will bring substantial energy savings and reliability to the research that happens at facilities such as Burt Hall, the Agricultural and Life Sciences Building, Nash Hall and Cordley and Withycombe Halls after renovation. 

The NDUP also replaces failing chillers in several of the buildings it now serves. This creates a more efficient, maintainable and reliable solution when compared to typical building chillers. The NDUP aids in the university’s path toward carbon neutrality and energy efficiency-focused goals. 

“The more prominent role of the distribution of chilled water, shared among the buildings and eventually the campus, is that this is the first step in a long-range endeavor to switch from distributing natural-gas-generated steam to electrically-heated-water,” said OSU Capital Planner John Gremmels. 

By Abbie Leland 

If you haven’t been on OSU’s Corvallis campus much lately, you might notice a handful of active construction sites as you return to campus. Work continues to progress for major projects on campus, including the Fairbanks Hall Renovation, Community Hall Slope, Cordley Hall Renewal and North District Utility Plant projects.   

Fairbanks Hall Renovation Project – People returning to campus will notice that the metal annex building has been demolished, and fencing and scaffolding are up around the building. Old fire escapes have been removed from the north and south sides of the building and a new roof is being added. Many walls and flooring inside the building have been removed as work continues to progress on the building’s interior. 

Originally constructed in 1892, Fairbanks Hall is one of the oldest buildings on the Corvallis campus. The renovation project includes major upgrades, such as a new east porch, a new roof, accessibility upgrades to the building entrance and the installation of an elevator. 

Community Hall Slope Project – OSU began work for the Community Hall Slope Project in July 2021 to update the area shown in this map image to provide access through this portion of the Corvallis campus for all people. ADA improvements related to the project will also require reconstruction of building entrances to Gladys Valley, the Pharmacy Building and Joyce Collin Furman Hall. There will be an open entrance to each building at all times. 

Tree removal work in the project area started at the beginning of September, and additional work associated with the project is taking place on the east side of Furman Hall. Fencing is up around the entire project area, and electrical work is in progress before the start of planned excavation work. 

Cordley Hall Renewal and North District Utility Plant projects – Renovation work being done on the west side of Cordley Hall is progressing on schedule with heavy construction activity. As we move into fall, upcoming work will include crane picks and equipment being placed into the building’s newly renovated westside penthouse. Exterior windows have also been installed. 

Construction of the North District Utility Plant (NDUP) is in the home stretch. Currently the project is performing functional testing, balancing and commissioning. The NDUP will provide 4,500 tons of cooling to the north campus chilled water loop. This system currently serves the Agricultural & Life Sciences (ALS) Building, Nash Hall, Cordley Hall, Wilkinson Hall and the Burt Hall complex. The new NDUP facility will provide capacity for expansion of this loop to neighboring facilities, and these improvements will be evaluated as major renovations are identified in the area. The NDUP is targeted to be fully operational in October 2021. 

Rendering looking north, featuring improved sidewalks and outdoor classroom space between Joyce Collin Furman Hall (right) and the Pharmacy Building (left) as part of Phase 1 of the Community Hall Slope Project. (Rendering from Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architecture and Planning)

While the charm and delight of a 150-year-old campus like OSU’s Corvallis campus cannot be denied, often there are barriers to accessibility for students, staff and community members. One such (large) issue is that of the area surrounding Community Hall. For years, the Community Hall Slope has remained non-accessible to many disabled people due to the hill’s topography. 

Beginning in summer 2021, Phase 1 of the Community Hall Slope Project will start to address these accessibility challenges. The Community Hall Slope project is also a key piece in completing the Comprehensive Accessibility Plan for the Built Environment sponsored by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, according to Gabriel Merrell, director of access and affirmative action and deputy ADA coordinator for OSU. 

“OSU is prioritizing and improving accessibility for people with disabilities with the Community Hall Slope Project,” explained Merrell. “This steepest area of campus is one of the last remaining large puzzle pieces towards completing a comprehensive accessible travel grid connecting all accessible parking spaces, bus stops and building entrances with accessible routes.”

Phase 1 of the Community Hall Slope Project will include revitalized ADA access from the gateway of SW Jefferson Way and SW 15th Street to the Valley Library. The area will feature new wider sidewalks and walkways, improvements to building access and ADA ramps, and space for an outdoor classroom and seating between Furman Hall and the Pharmacy Building.

This part of the project is just the start of revitalizing the entire Community Hall area. The topography surrounding Community Hall is hilly and so the project, according to OSU’s capital planner John Gremmels, will feature a lot of moving parts. “It will be a technical challenge, but will be a holistic approach to removing barriers to accessibility in a beloved part of campus,” Gremmels said.

The entire Community Hall Slope Project will consist of three phases of construction work and will be funded partially by capital improvement and renewal funds from the state of Oregon.

Work on Phase 1 of the project will begin in June 2021—people on campus will see excavation and grading work, and the placement of underground electrical utilities and lighting. The entire Community Hall Slope Project is expected to run eight to 10 years, with four or more phases occurring every two years.

by Abbie Leland

Photo credit: Samantha Stember. Butterfly specimens, which are part of the Oregon State Arthropod Collection, are currently housed at Cordley Hall. But soon, the OSAC and Herbarium Collection will be moved to the Research Way Lab Building and housed there for the next two years as renovation work takes place at Cordley as part of the Cordley Hall Renewal Project.

Work for the Cordley Hall Renewal Project is scheduled to begin in June. The three-phase renovation will provide modernized and updated infrastructure to the 236,000-square-foot building, as well as transform it into a modern learning and research space.

Cordley is home to two natural history collections: The Herbarium and the Oregon State Arthropod Collection, which will need to be relocated to the Research Way Lab Building for the next two years while renovations occur.

Moving the 3 million specimens included in the arthropod collection, which is the largest insect collection in the Pacific Northwest, and the half a million vascular plant, bryophyte, algal and fungal specimens included in the Herbarium, is no easy feat.

“It would have been complex enough as it were, but with COVID-19 measures now overlaid on top, it is even more complex,” said Dr. Christopher Marshall, curator for the OSAC.

Marshall, along with others like Herbarium Director Aaron Liston, Blaine Baker, one of the building managers for Cordley Hall, OSAC Director Dr. David Maddison, and College of Science employees, are working to finalize a move plan to safely transport the collections.

Marshall, for example, is helping with the move of more than 8,000 wooden and glass-topped drawers filled with delicate dried specimens. Many of the specimens are over 100 years old and include specimens from around North America and the world.

“And that material serves as an invaluable resource for local biologists, land managers, conservationists and others who need to have reliable examples of exotic species for their research and professional needs,” he said.

The specimens will be moved out of their cabinets and carefully placed onto palettes in order. “Then they’ll be stored until the movers can unmount their cabinets, move those over to Research Way, and install them,” Marshall said.

Once moved, everything will need to be unpacked in order, so that the collection is usable at the Research Way Lab Building, all without damaging any specimens.

Once the Cordley Hall renovations are complete, the collections will be moved back to the building, where they can be more prominently displayed. According to a recent article featured in the College of Science’s Impact Magazine, the collections will be housed on the second floor of Cordley. The new building will increase the impact of these assets and engage students and members of the public who visit Cordley Hall.

Fiscal Coordinator II Diane McGill works with the UFIO Financial Services team.

by Abbie Leland

Process consistency, balanced with flexibility can improve efficiency and effectiveness, as outlined in one of the principles included in the Division of Finance and Administration’s Framework for Success initiative. And the work done by Financial Services is a great example of how this DFA Framework for Success principle is brought to life on a daily basis.

As part of University Facilities, Infrastructure and Operations, the Financial Services team manages the finances and processes payments for the university’s capital construction projects, real property acquisitions and facilities management.

Diane McGill, a fiscal coordinator II with the team, has served in a variety of finance-focused roles since she started working at Oregon State University in August 2000. She joined UFIO in 2011. Throughout her career, McGill has developed an interest in capital projects.

“OSU has offered me many opportunities for growth,” she said.

In her current role, McGill enjoys working with her team to support the project and construction managers on the Project Delivery team at the funding and reporting level. The Financial Services team has played an important role in UFIO’s focus in providing better customer service to internal and external partnerships within UFIO, the Corvallis and Cascades campuses, and in Newport and Portland.

“It is very exciting to continue building those working relationships. After all, we are a team, and it takes all of us working together to benefit the university for our students,” McGill said. She gave a special shout out to her team members, adding that each individual has a very important role to keep the bills and contractors paid, reconciling project funding and submitting state reimbursement requests to keep bond cash flowing. She added that the team is more efficient with the help of “awesome” student employees and that Director of Financial Planning and Budgeting Stephanie Harvey, who provides the team with excellent guidance through her leadership.

“I hope you can tell I love my job and everyone I work with,” McGill said.

Rick Freeman, Construction Manager for Project Delivery

by Abbie Leland

Structured and inclusive decision-making leaves plenty of room for creativity and collaboration when it comes to construction projects at OSU. It can also help ensure that projects generate effective results. This principle, included in the Division of Finance and Administration’s Framework for Success initiative, is showcased by the Project Delivery team, part of University Facilities, Infrastructure and Operations.

Construction Manager Rick Freeman, part of the Project Delivery team, says it’s not easy to describe his job in a nutshell because of the many steps and processes involved in projects of all sizes, costing from $50,000 to $100 million.

Construction managers team up with a project manager on larger construction and renovation projects and collaboratively manage a project from design development through to the completed construction of a facility. For smaller projects, the construction manager takes on both roles.

“CMs are the day-to-day point of contact during the construction phase,” Freeman said.

Collaboration is an everyday element of construction management work. The entire Project Delivery team works with external design and construction groups, manages project budgets and works with the City of Corvallis for permitting and code guidelines.

Freeman has memories of each and every project in his 12 years of working at OSU.

“Whether I am driving through the intersection of 26th and Western Boulevard, seeing the OSU gateway sign or watching OSU Softball and seeing the new turf under the new lights, walking by the Memorial Union under the glass canopy and through the Student Experience Center or down Jefferson to Furman Hall, all my projects, small or large, have memories,” he said.

Freeman’s time at OSU extends beyond his work. Born and raised in Corvallis, he spent much of his childhood attending sporting events, riding his bike through the Corvallis campus or playing video games and bowling at the MU.

“So the fact that I get to work at a place where I spent a lot of time as a child is very special,” he said. “I enjoy that, as a construction manager, I get to be involved in projects that improve campus by remodeling buildings or adding new ones.”

He added that he works with a dedicated team at UFIO that’s passionate about bettering the university and creating an amazing experience for students, employees and visitors.

Eric Smith is one of OSU's space analysts.
People across campus recognize Space Analyst Eric Smith as a familiar face when it comes to space. Smith is a member of the Space Management team with University Facilities, Infrastructure and Operations. 

By Abbie Leland

Thousands of students, employees, visitors and community members share space on Oregon State University’s Corvallis campus each day. Looking at the numbers, the core Corvallis campus adds up to 570 acres and 5.7 million gross square footage of space.

Have you ever wondered how all of the pieces of this large space puzzle fit together? The Space Management team with University Facilities, Infrastructure and Operations helps answer that question. People across campus recognize space analyst Eric Smith as a familiar face when it comes to space. He helps compile information for the annual OSU Space Survey. During his seven years with the university, Smith has learned a lot about OSU’s floor plans, square footage and just how much goes into moving to new spaces or from place to place.

“I enjoy getting out on campus and meeting people. I’ve learned a lot of random things, seeing all the different architecture, all the different research [that goes on at the university],” Smith said. “If you visit a space and it is being used for research, those people in the space are going to talk to you about the research they are doing.”

The tasks managed by the Space Management team align with one of the principles included in the Division of Finance and Administration’s Framework for Success project: Active stewardship of resources.

The team provides effective stewardship of OSU’s space, by managing space requests, facilitating the annual space survey, supporting campus moves coordination and providing space allocation and utilization reports.

“This is what I do when I go out and look at spaces and talk to people for the space survey. We’re here to serve the university. We don’t want to underutilize our space,” Smith said.

Energy Center
The OSU Energy Center is a cogeneration facility that combines heating and electricity generation. It takes a dedicated seven-member crew to operate the facility year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

By Abbie Leland 

The OSU Energy Center, located at the corner of SW 35th Street and SW Jefferson Way, serves an important role on the Corvallis campus as a cogeneration energy facility that combines heating and electricity generation. The facility uses a natural gas-fired turbine and heat recovery steam generator to produce electricity, a more sustainable method of generating electricity. OSU is able to generate nearly half of its electrical needs on-site and produces almost all of the steam used on the Corvallis campus.

The facility became fully operational in June 2010, when it replaced the original 95-year-old heat plant on campus. The Energy Center was the first power facility in the nation to receive Platinum LEED Certification. Several efficient features of the facility include radiant heating and hot water generated by heat recovery from the steam system.

Supervisor of Energy Operations Les Walton has worked at the original heat plant and the newer facility throughout the years, as part of OSU’s Facilities Services.

“I’ve been here about 26 years now,” he said. “I have fun and the crew is fantastic.”

Walton took a job with OSU after serving as a boiler repairman with the U.S. Navy.

“I worked at the heat plant then moved over here [to the Energy Center],” he said.

During a recent afternoon tour of the Energy Center, Walton stopped and pointed to a large, shiny piece of machinery on the floor of the facility. He explained that the bright blue Davey brand air compressor serves as a backup air compressor for the Energy Center. It was moved to the facility from the original heat plant.

“That’s one of the first things I worked on when I started here 26 years ago on the graveyard shift,” he said.

The Energy Center has a dedicated seven-member crew that operates the plant year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Walton could spend hours explaining the ins and outs of OSU’s campus Energy Operations.

One of the original goals for the Energy Center was that it could act as a learning lab for OSU students. Walton has led tours of the cogeneration facility for thousands of OSU faculty and staff members, students studying in the areas of engineering, sustainability and renewable energy, and a variety of engineering groups and companies outside of the university.

“The students sometimes get really engaged during tours, and that’s the cool part – when they are interested and ask questions,” Walton said.

This innovative structure made from mass plywoods panels (MPP) by Freres Lumber Co., located in Lyons, Oregon, was on display at the A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory

by Abbie Leland

Oregon State University was recently one of 10 colleges and universities across the United States to receive a grant through the Mass Timber University Grant Program.

Grants awarded through the Mass Timber University Grant Program to all 10 institutions totaled $1 million. This cooperative partnership with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities supports the construction of mass timber buildings on college campuses across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

OSU receives $100,000 in funds with the grant award, which will be used to explore the structural possibilities that mass timber could play in the design of OSU’s new arts and education complex on the university’s Corvallis campus. OSU announced in July 2019 that the new arts and education complex will be built at the corner of Southwest 15th Street and Washington Way.

Mass timber includes a variety of wood products made up of smaller pieces of wood that are laminated and compressed to create large, solid panels of wood that can serve as structural components in buildings, according to the Forest Service.

Additionally, placing these buildings at institutions of higher learning, such as OSU, can help educate more people about the benefits of mass timber. The Forest Service highlights that a thriving mass timber market helps maintain forest health and resiliency, supports employment opportunities in rural communities and advances sustainability of the built environment.

And this isn’t the first time mass timber is being explored at OSU. OSU has been a pioneer in adopting mass timber, with the recent completion of the A.A. Red Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Lab and the George W. Peavy Forest Science Center, which will be completed in Spring 2020 as part of the Oregon Forest Science Complex for the College of Forestry. The Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Lab is also home to the TallWood Design Institute, whose applied research and education mission is to promote greater use of wood in non-residential and multi-family construction. The TallWood Design Institute helped with the grant submission process for the Mass Timber University Grant Program and serves as a key member of the grant-winning team for the arts and education complex project.

While concrete and steel are more traditional and commonly-used building materials, mass timber offers up something new and innovative for OSU to explore.

Oregon State’s research addresses issues that improve lives, protect natural resources and drive economic growth. While cutting-edge research takes place in buildings like the Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, Cordley Hall or Hallie E. Ford Center, research into topics such as pollinator health can take place in campus’s landscapes—right before our eyes.

The Corvallis campus is a living laboratory. Tucked away in small corners on the west side of campus are a number of small projects. Student projects, faculty projects and more—all supported by the Landscape Shop, which is part of Facilities Services.

One of these projects was started by Isabella Messer, an undergraduate studying Horticulture in the College of Agriculture Sciences. She recently began her first research project detailing bee visits to pollinator-attractive plants in OSU landscapes. She’s counting in five-minute increments how many visits pollinators make to plants such as showy milkweed, columbine, oregano and pearly everlasting, which are scattered around landscapes around the greenhouse gardens west of the Agricultural and Life Sciences Building. Messer wanted to count visits to plants that weren’t represented in the landscapes, so she and Horticulture professor Gail Langellotto approached Todd Cross, Trades Maintenance Coordinator for the Landscape Shop, about the possibility of adding to the Corvallis campus landscapes.

Cross had recently connected with Langellotto at the PNW Pollinator Summit, hosted by Oregon State in February 2019, and was eager to help. “The real value in a project like this for us in the Landscape Shop is what we learn,” explained Cross. “Landscape is a constantly evolving trade and if we are doing our jobs well we should always be open to new techniques, new products, new plants and new ways of thinking. Pollinators are a hot topic right now and for good reason.”

Along with Bill Coslow, supervisor of the Landscape Shop, the group met to plan a planting timeline, define responsibilities and figure out irrigation issues. Messer planted the specimens around the greenhouses and has been counting pollinator visits since this spring.

“Isabella can literally walk out the door of ALS  and start doing ecological science,” explained Langellotto, who is supervising this research project. “I have fewer concerns about her safety, compared to if she had to visit multiple private properties. The Landscape Shop has been fantastic, in terms of inviting us in to do science, and keeping open lines of communication to make sure that we can meet our goals without compromising theirs (and vice versa).”