By Curt Yeomans
The area along Clayton State Boulevard in Morrow was only a hole carved in Georgia red clay in August 2007.
However, as 2008 begins, Clayton State University's 179,000-square-foot student housing facility for freshmen is showing signs of life on the site. The basic walls are nearly finished on the western side of the facility. The eastern and northern wings of the building have a roof and windows, and the brick exterior is halfway finished on those portions.
The building is on schedule to open its doors on Aug. 14. Once completed, it will be the largest building on the Clayton State campus.
"Obviously, there's a lot of excitement on campus as this building goes up," said Brian Haynes, Clayton State's vice president of student affairs. "As the building takes shape, we see an opportunity for incoming students."
The building is approaching the completion of the "dry-in" phase, said Phillip Hall, the project manager. This phase is when the roof, walls and windows are put on. The eastern and northern wings are already at the end of this stage.
"Those portions of the building are weather-tight, which means they are closed to the elements," Hall said.
The next phases of construction will include performing electrical and plumbing work inside the building, as well as putting up the interior walls that will frame each room. The final stage will involve furnishing the 451-bed building before students arrive on campus for the fall 2008 semester.
The student housing facility, coupled with the student activity center, will cost $38 million, according to school officials.The activity center also is on schedule to open with the housing facility.
The university's 69,000-square-foot activity center is being constructed next to the soccer fields on Simpson Drive. The concrete foundation has been laid and the concrete frame is currently being erected.
Hall said construction crews benefited from the absence of rain during the early construction phases. "The recent rain we've had affected us a little bit, but not much," Hall said. "It is very beneficial that we were able to get as much done as we did before the rain started falling again."
Haynes said university officials are currently in the process of deciding what to do about housing for sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students, but he remained tight-lipped about the options. "Nothing is firm yet," he said.
Hall said watching the freshmen housing facility go up made him excited about Clayton State's future. He said both facilities will give parents of Clayton State students a sense of security.
"As a parent myself, it makes me look at Clayton State differently," Hall said. "I would not endorse my daughter going off to a college that has no place on campus for students to live ... "