BYU undergoes campus construction projects, building updates

Sign warns against trespassing on construction site. Multiple construction projects are underway at BYU. (Joel Leighton)

Major construction on the north side of the library and the new Arts Building have uprooted the center of BYU campus and left some students wondering what to expect from the new projects.

George Mcknight, pre-art major, said he walks across campus multiple times a day, and wonders why the north face of the library has been completely dug up.

“I have no idea what’s going on here, over the library. I kind of like the grass and all the bushes and flowers, you can just go lay down and take a nap. So, it’s a little jarring, takes you out of it a bit,” Mcknight said.

Construction workers on the north face of the library. The area is being dug up in order to upgrade the roof. (Joel Leighton)

Todd Hollingshead, BYU’s media relations manager, has given information on the large uprooting project around the library.

“The underground portion of the Harold B. Lee Library is undergoing a waterproofing replacement and upgrade.” Hollingshead said. The project will take around eight months to complete.

Scaffolding on the west side of the Harold B. Lee Library. The library is being re-roofed. (Joel Leighton)

There is also scaffolding on the west side of the library. “The entire library is being re-roofed and the west side is the access point to haul off old material and bring in new material,” Hollingshead said.

The largest building project on campus is the new Arts Building just east of the library. Plans to replace the Harris Fine Arts Center with a new Arts Building were first announced in July 2022. Since then, the building has been almost completely demolished, with its foundations currently being dug up.

Digger moving debris for the foundation of the new Art Building. The Harris Fine Arts Center has been torn down. (Joel Leighton)

Dean Ed Adams of the College of Fine Arts and Communications gave insight into the decision making behind the large undertaking.

“Initially we studied for a couple of years how we could simply renovate or remodel the HFAC, and it became cost prohibitive. If you do substantial construction it has to be brought to modern code … if you think about it, this building was started in 1963 — code has changed a lot,” Adams said.

Adams said the cost of renovations was coming close to the cost of a whole new building. In addition, the new Arts Building will provide more facilities and space for new art fields that did not exist when the HFAC was constructed.

The new building will also include a cinema, production studio and spaces to support the animation program.

“I was kind of sad seeing the last wall come down in the HFAC, but I was almost more excited for what’s coming in its space,” Adams said.

For some, construction has become a constant part of their campus experience. Josh Pope has worked on BYU grounds for almost five years and has always worked around various construction projects. In fact, it has become a joke among his colleagues.

“We always joke around, there’s the principle in the Church we always talk about: continual progression. We joke about that, they’re thinking about that in terms of grounds too,” Pope said.

For Adams, updating and constructing buildings can be key in better serving the members of the BYU community.

“To me it’s all about students. I do have a certain sentimentality about buildings, but if buildings reach a point where they’re really not serving our learning outcomes and the students, what’s the purpose of the building?” Adams said.

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