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Construction on the University of Minnesota, Morris’ Green Prairie Living and Learning Center is moving forward on schedule, but casual observers may not see much progress until the weather improves. Adding the brick and stucco work on the outside of the building is on hold until overnight temperatures stay above 40 degrees. (Kim Ukura/Sun Tribune)

Cold overnight temperatures delay exterior progress on UMM’s Green Dorm

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MORRIS – The late arrival of spring temperatures has delayed work finishing the exterior of the Green Prairie Living and Learning Center at the University of Minnesota, Morris, but work on the interior has moved quickly since the building was fully enclosed.

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“There's always something that can come up, but I feel pretty confident that this building will be occupied before the school year starts,” said Rick Lock, site supervisor with McGough Construction.

Construction on the “Green Dorm” began in December 2012 and has, so far, faced no major delays despite harsh winter weather. By late April or early May, the building should be completely drywalled and nearly ready to be painted, Lock estimated.

“Once we got inside the building, we haven't stopped for anything,” said Lock.

Work on the exterior of the building will continue after overnight temperatures remain above 40 degrees. Once contractors can begin work on the brick and stucco exterior, Lock estimated it will take between six and eight weeks to complete.

On average, between 20 and 30 workers are on the site each day, and that number will only increase once exterior work begins. The project has also had no safety incidents for students or workers, said Paul Oelze, project manager with the University of Minnesota.

“Given the elevated work and icy conditions, that's really an accomplishment,” said Lock.

The budget for the project remains in “very good shape,” said Oelze. Money from two contingency budget lines have also been released and will be used for projects in the building including more finishes on the exterior of the building, said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Sandy Olson-Loy.

“What really impressed me this morning driving up was, already, without any skin on the building, it feels like it's been there for awhile,” said Roger Purdy, construction administrator with the architectural firm, LBH. “It just seems to fit nicely.”­

This week, staff with the Office of Residential Life finished the initial sign-ups for students living on campus. The Green Dorm is about 85 percent full with returning students, while sign-ups for freshmen interested in living on the themed sustainability floor will be completed over the next couple of weeks, said Tom Ladner, assistant director of residential life, facilities and operations.

A campus search committee is in the process of hiring a full-time community coordinator for the new residence hall. Offers for interviews will be sent out next week and candidates will likely be on campus in April, said T.J. Ross, associate director in the office of residential life.

In the next several weeks, contractors and designers will also be available to answer questions about the building as part of a green education building on the site, said Olson-Loy.  

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Kim Ukura is the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune. 

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