Special Events center to be demolished

The Special Events Center is on its way down.

Because Phase I of construction for the new Phyllis P. Marshall Center requires the demolition of the SEC, future lectures and events will have to be relocated.

The original date of demolition was Feb. 7, but picking a construction manager and other technicalities have delayed demolition until anywhere between April and late July.

“Our guess is it will come down probably right at the end of school,” Marshall Center administrator Joe Synovec said.

A committee has been organized to decide how to deal with the loss of the SEC.

The committee is considering a prefabricated structure to be erected in its place by Sprung Instant Structures (SIS) Inc., but Synovec said the temporary structure may not be worth the cost.

According to the company’s Web site, Sprung invented a stressed membrane structure that is moveable and lightweight. The structures can be either temporary or semi-permanent. The Web site shows photos of structures with windows, skylights, canopies, decks and graphics on the outside.

According to Synovec, the SIS would seat approximately 1,000 people, be air conditioned and have all the features of a regular building. He also said that once inside, it is very hard to tell it is not a regular building.

The SIS would not be located on the SEC site, but no specific site has been chosen yet.

“There are a lot of unknowns right now,” Synovec said.

The last event in the SEC will be a lecture by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai on March 23.

The University Lecture Series and other programs that hold their lectures in the SEC will not be put on hiatus, but will have to hold their lectures elsewhere.

“They’ll just have to change their strategy,” Synovec said. “Right now we have a lot of big lectures in the SEC and a lot of small ones in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom. Maybe they’ll do all small (lectures) and do them in the ballroom, or maybe they’ll just do two big (lectures) in the Sun Dome, like Archbishop Tutu.”

On March 24, the control of the SEC will be handed over to Synovec, who will start moving things out of the building, selling things from the building and have it cleaned throughout the course of about three weeks.

Marshall Center officials have already started to go through the building to identify and take pictures of all the equipment they don’t want thrown away, most of which they plan on selling on a government auction Web site.

Schools, state departments, city drama departments and the like can use the Web site to find things that they need.

“Its like eBay for government,” Synovec said.

They will sell some, if not all, of the fixed seating and sound and light equipment, which is outdated by about 16 years.

Synovec will have until April 15 to clean house, at which point contractors will start removing pipes and metals. The cost of the demolition will depend on what the contractors can pull out of the building and sell themselves.

“There is a little bit of interior work to get done before a crane slams it down,” Synovec said.

The things they want to keep will have to be stored in an on-campus warehouse that was cleaned out in December but is not climate controlled.

Since some of the equipment from the SEC does need to be climate controlled, Synovec will have to do a bit of rearranging.

“Anything we put in there we’d have to wrap up in Saran Wrap,” Synovec said

He plans to move items stored in the Marshall Center’s empty closets and offices that do not need to be climate controlled into the warehouse, making room for other temperature-sensitive items.

Overall plans for the building have changed since the renovation process started.

At first, officials wanted to tear down the SEC and renovate the inside of the Marshall Center, according to Synovec. In the former plan, the SEC was to be rebuilt.

Now the decision has been made to tear down the SEC and build a brand new student union twice as big as originally planed, then demolish the Marshall Center. That space will then become somewhat of an expanded MLK Plaza, Synovec said.

“Renovating a building can make it pretty, but its still an old building,” Synovec said. “The decision was to make the best use of our money and do it right, so that’s what where doing. When summer 2008 goes, we move into our new building and we’re all done.”