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MU board approves bid for engineering complex

Oct. 11, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Marshall University Board of Governors voted Wednesday to award a contract for building the new Arthur Weisberg Family Applied Engineering Complex to BBL Carlton of Charleston, which had the lowest of six bids at $47.75 million.

The action was needed after reviewing minutes from a 2008 board meeting, when the Board of Governors approved a resolution to the design and bid phase. Language in that resolution did not stipulate that the contract be awarded automatically to the lowest bidder.

Still, President Stephen Kopp said it was good to discuss the project before agreeing on a contract to spend more than $47 million.

"This is a very sophisticated building," Kopp said.

The multi-story complex to be constructed along 3rd Avenue between the Arthur Weisberg Family Engineering Laboratories and the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center in Huntington has an estimated budget of $50 million.

Kopp said that although the bids came in higher than expected -- officials had hoped the base bids would be in the $44 million to $45 million range -- it is understandable, considering the economic conditions and the 28 months it is expected to take to build it.

"We need to build this facility," he said. "It's a very important addition to campus."

The new complex will house six different academic components and programs, including the College of Information Technology and Engineering and its divisions of engineering, computer science, applied science and technology; Mechanical, Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering Research Laboratories; Departments of Mathematics and Computational Science; Computer Modeling and Digital Imaging/ Simulation Resource Facility; Transportation Research Corporation; and the Marshall University Research Corp.

As for the 10 alternates that were separate from the base bid, no decisions has been made, said Ron May, director of Facilities Planning and Management.

Those alternates include lab space on the fourth floor for the research corporation, which BBL Carlton bid $1.469 million to do.

Other proposed alternates included a basic canopy to connect the current engineering lab to the new facility or an enclosed lobby that connects the two buildings; vegetated roof and pavers; amphitheater; and overhead crane for the advanced materials testing lab.

The budget for the project has three funding sources: $25 million from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, $13 million from university bond proceeds and a goal of $12 million in private donations. A large gift pledge in June from Arthur's Enterprises, a Huntington-based company owned by Arthur Weisberg, helped bring the private donations above the halfway mark, said Matt Turner, Marshall's chief of staff.

The property where the building will be located is currently an employee parking lot. The lot will close by Oct. 26, and a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 29.