Students deal with detours as Breezeway undergoes renovations

Construction isn't scheduled to be finished until November 2017

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Students deal with detours as Breezeway undergoes renovations

Wrap around into Tradition Square, the most common area to say “ excuse me ” at FAU. Patrick Delaney | Photo Editor

Wrap around into Tradition Square, the most common area to say “ excuse me ” at FAU. Patrick Delaney | Photo Editor

Wrap around into Tradition Square, the most common area to say “ excuse me ” at FAU. Patrick Delaney | Photo Editor

Wrap around into Tradition Square, the most common area to say “ excuse me ” at FAU. Patrick Delaney | Photo Editor

Joe Pye and Ryan Lynch

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The combination of fenced-in areas, closed-off entrances and hot, humid weather during Breezeway renovations are making navigation through campus less than a breeze for students.

For sophomore criminal justice major Salwa Aldasouqi, the changes have negatively affected her health to the point where she has considered skipping class.

“I have asthma. Getting through that [new] walkway makes my chest tight, and I feel more fatigued,” Aldasouqi said. “I have to ask: ‘Can I afford missing this class or is it really going to impact my grades?’”

The Breezeway has been the main cultural hub of the Boca Raton campus since shortly after the university opened in 1964.

Vending machines are set up in the Breezeway outside Starbucks as a blockade to prevent students from entering construction areas. Brandon Harrington | Staff Photographer

Vending machines are set up in the Breezeway outside Starbucks as a blockade to prevent students from entering construction areas. Brandon Harrington | Staff Photographer

Thousands of students use it to get to class every week as it runs through such a large portion of the campus. Student organizations like Greek life and on-campus clubs have taken advantage of its foot traffic and use it to recruit members on a daily basis.

On top of that, it acts as the only extensive structure that offers shelter from Florida’s annual thunderstorms and 90-degree heat.

The overhaul of the Breezeway, which is currently on time according to FAU’s Major Projects Management Database, is set to be completed by Nov. 13, 2017.

According to a document that gives an overview of the project from the Office of Facilities Management, dated Sept. 13, 2010, the initial budget was estimated at $2.5 million, with $2.1 million allocated for the construction.

The budget later increased to a total of $3.45 million as stated by the report, which lists ongoing construction progress on all of FAU’s campuses.

Fixes will include renovating the roof to prevent leaks and puddling of rainwater, waterproofing both floors and repairing concrete pillars, according to Vincent Cucchiella, the construction project manager.

Aldasouqi is frustrated with the changes she’s had to make to her routine thanks to the new building entry routes. “Walking long distances is already troubling. To walk way longer, that’s going to be even more troubling.”

Raymond Mathis, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, takes issue with the fact that he can’t longboard on the quarter-mile-long pathway thanks to the recent construction.

“That’s the biggest problem … It’s like a highway. If you cut off the beginning, there’s going to be a push toward the end,” he said. “That was often the path I took, unless there were cops.”

Something that has not changed is the emergency access plan for General Classroom South, which has its front entrances completely blocked off by the construction fences.

Boca campus students have been restricted from using the upstairs of the Breezeway due to a renovation project that is expected to be completed in November 2017. Brandon Harrington | Staff Photographer

Boca campus students have been restricted from using the upstairs of the Breezeway due to a renovation project that is expected to be completed in November 2017. Brandon Harrington | Staff Photographer

Taff Geleta, the fire safety coordinator for the university, said that the normal access route for emergency vehicles is on the east side of the building and that there is an alternate side entry behind the clinic.

“We have weekly meetings with the construction company, one of the items discussed is safety,” Geleta said. “Myself and other safety personnel regularly walk through the construction site to ensure the safety of our community.”

In reference to the classroom entrances facing the walkway, Geleta said, “We decided not to lock the door for emergencies, but would not open it up for regular use.”

Sophomore English major Kai Leigh hopes her classes won’t be near the construction come the spring semester.

Sophmore criminal justice major Salwa Aldasouqi and sophomore English major Kai Leigh have both experienced problems since the start of the Breezeway construction. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

Sophmore criminal justice major Salwa Aldasouqi and sophomore English major Kai Leigh have both experienced problems since the start of the Breezeway construction. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

“Hopefully I’ll have classes in the Arts and Letters buildings or others,” she said. Just southeast of the Breezeway, the building is unaffected by the renovations.

“I had one class in General North, and they switched to [General] South, so I am happy for that,” said Leigh. “Walking through that path, it’s kind of crowded because everyone is going through at one time.”

The construction plan also includes the replacement of old lighting fixtures with new, energy efficient lights and a move to refurbish all of the bathrooms in the Breezeway with new tile, ceilings, lights and the addition of air conditioning.

The first phase of the three-stage process — see sidebar — started in June and is focused on the entire roof and a segment of both the bottom and top floors.

After phase one which is scheduled to be completed on Feb. 27, further work will be done on the stretch of the path from the Hillel 24-hour study center to the walkway entrance near the Campus Rec, as well as the area in front of Starbucks and the food court.

Workers will begin moving equipment for phase two, which includes blocking off the currently open Breezeway entrance to the Sanson Life Sciences Building, on Feb. 20. The second phase will encompass the stretch of walkway between the Behavioral Sciences Building and the entrance closest to FAU Stadium.

Phase three is planned to begin on July 3.

Leigh has difficulty walking to classes she used to use the Breezeway to access.

“I can’t stay out in the sun too long, I get dizzy easily,” she said. “I used to go straight through the Breezeway and then turn out [toward the College of Education]. Now I have to walk all the way around.”

Leigh says she would use the mulched walkway near the work area, but she gets claustrophobic within the space when a lot of students walk through it.

With the project completion date so far off, Aldasouqi said, “I guess I’m going to have to start scheduling my classes [around the construction].”

“At first I thought, ‘Maybe it’s not even going to take that long.’ I mean, they started since the summer,” she said. “But until I found out it was November [of next year] then I got worried.”

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Joe Pye is the news editor of the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Jpeg3189.

Ryan Lynch is the editor in chief of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @RyanLynchwriter.