As Orson Spencer Hall goes down and construction begins for the new Carolyn and Kem Gardner Building, campus developers are asking students to leave their mark in time by signing a commemorative steel beam in the Union that will be built in with the new building.

Shireen Ghorbani works with Facilities Management at the University of Utah and said the steel beam project is an effort to make students feel like a part of something big and long lasting.

“It’s just kind of that idea that you were here when these big projects were taking place on our campus,” Ghorbani said. “It’s sort of that connection between now and that piece of time. It’s a kind of time capsule for people who were here when these buildings were being built.”

Although the beam will be built in with the new building and will be blocked from sight, Ghorbani said it still allows students a way to leave a symbolic mark on the history of the U and their time in college.

It is also a way to commemorate OSH, she said, which was one of the oldest buildings on campus before it was demolished last Fall. Ghorbani remembers teaching a class in the old social and behavioral science building and said it is a bittersweet moment to see it replaced.

The steel beam initiative was initially thought of by former Director of Campus Planning John McNary, who retired last year. It began with the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education Complex, which was built in February 2014. Since then, Ghorbani said every building project at the U has included a steel beam covered in black and red student signatures, sketches and epigraphs.

“We would encourage people to stop by, leave your mark,” she said.

Ghorbani said, another goal of the initiative is to educate students about construction and renovation on campus.

With roads, walkways and parking lots being closed across campus, Ghorbani said she understands the frustration and inconvenience felt that many students and guests feel on the U’s campus. The beam project is meant to encourage students to see the constructive side of campus development, she mentioned.

“We know that construction can be a bit of a hindrance in terms of the noise and getting around campus, but we’re really excited about this building, as we are with many of our new efforts on campus,” she said. “We just can’t wait to open the space and better serve students.”

The Carolyn and Kem Gardner Building is a $68 million project that began last October and is expected to be completed in Fall 2018. It will house the College of Social and Behavioral Science which is made up of seven departments. The new building will also house the Hinckley Institute of Politics, Office of Global Engagement, Social Science Research Institute, National Center for Veteran Studies and the recently launched School for Cultural and Social Transformation.

33 classrooms, two auditoriums and a handful of study spaces will available to students inside the new space.

Connor Richards is the assistant opinion editor of The Daily Utah Chronicle. Formerly a news writer, he covers politics, social issues and student life. He has won both regional and statewide awards for his writing.


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