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Construction issues delay Rice Pavilion repairs

Curtis Shaffer
The Rice Family Pavilion will be an event venue once it’s finished.

Renovations to the Rice Family Pavilion had a rocky start and have been delayed due to construction issues caused by the building’s age. The Pavilion is now expected to be open by the start of the next semester.

Although it is opening in January, it is being described as a “soft opening,” according to Ed Kania, vice president for business and finance and treasurer at Rollins. This means that there will be a few test events before the building is fully open to the public. 

Because of the delay, most events that were scheduled for the Rice Family Pavilion have been pushed back to spring of 2019.  

“It looked for months like nothing was going on here,” said Kania about the starting delay. He said that the delay was mostly at the start of construction, when any sort of adjustments to the building were difficult to accomplish because of the way electrical conduits were wired and arranged. 

These conduits controlled the modern implementations to the building, including most of the technology and utilities, like phones. It took time for the construction workers to navigate the old style of routing that they were not used to.

“What I’m discovering is that older buildings don’t have documentation and the underground mapping wasn’t the greatest, but that’s not uncommon for old colleges,” said Kania.

Additionally, the building needs windows that are proving to be hard to procure. “We might end up having to put temporary windows in place,” said Kania. He clarified this would not come at a cost to Rollins. 

Kania said that there was also trouble in finding qualified and available welders to handle the design of the cupola, which is the dome-like structure on the top of the building.

“The labor market for construction here in Central Florida is crazy right now,” said Kania. “There’s so much construction going on everywhere. It’s hard to find contractors who can stick with it long enough.”

Rollins is currently in a contract with Lamm & Company, which also built Dave’s Boathouse, Strong Hall, Mayflower Hall, Corrin Hall, and executed the renovations of the Sandspur Field. 

The Rice Family Pavilion, which was previously the campus bookstore, will now be used as a meeting place for students, faculty, and staff. It will also hold larger events during the weekends from outside vendors.

“My crazy vision is that I want Rollins to be a one stop shop for the community. For example, you could have a wedding ceremony at the chapel and then walk down to your reception at the Rice Pavilion,” said Kania.

He is hopeful that people will be able to book events like weddings as early as September of 2019. 

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