Construction of Garvin Theatre delayed further, goes over budget

Tara Sim

Already a delayed a year, the Garvin Theatre remains behind schedule and increasingly over budget, with no final cost or completion date projected.

As West Campus’ resident eyesore, the construction of the Garvin Theater is hard to ignore. Since June 2009, renovations have been underway to renovate the theater into a more modern, accessible, code-compliant, and technically sound space.

With an original budget of about $15 million funded primarily by Measure V, construction on the theater was originally intended to end by the summer of 2010. However, the Garvin remodel has yet to come close to a conclusion.

“The bottom line is that we are behind schedule,” said Measure V Program Manager Steve Massetti.

According to Massetti and Joe Sullivan, vice-president of business services, the enterprise has not yet gone over budget because the funds involved have not been fully extend. And though they don’t know what the final number will be, they do know in the end the project will indeed be over budget. Currently, the project has already spent $13.3 million of the now contracted $18.5 million with the fall of 2011 the project’s new estimated completion date.

From its inception, the project has endured unexpected delays, including a subcontractor going out of business and original building plans that failed to provide an accurate depiction of the theaters structure.

“It’s a big complex project, and the complexity tends to make the initial projections a little more optimistic,” said Tom Garey, administrative chair of the theater department.

Initial planning was centered on the original drawings of the building, but better drawings had to be made after facing the unexpected problems. These included accidentally cutting buried conduit and rewiring it, as well as the need for asbestos abatement in unanticipated areas.

“I’ve lost count of how many sheets of drawing have been done for this project,” Garey said. “It would have really been nicer if we had been able to plan the whole thing at once. I think that’s probably the biggest pitfall in the process.”

With major parts of the Garvin project still to be completed, construction work needed for the Humanities building has now been put on hold.

A swing space is being used to house a majority of the theater arts classes. With only one space available for interim use, the Theater Arts Department must be vacated in order for the Humanities to move in.

“We are putting as much pressure on the project team to finish this project as quickly as possible so that we can get moving on to Humanities,” Massetti said.

By the remodel’s completion, major changes will have been made to not only just the Garvin, but also the drama and music building.

Those upgrades include a new roof that allows for better orchestral and choral acoustics, upgraded lighting systems, technological advancements to provide better training for students interested in pursuing production, and accessibility. Virtually the entire building will be handicap accessible.

“It really will be an incredible facility once finished,” said Garey.

Upon completion, there will be a celebration in the theater coordinated by both Garey and recently retired Co-Chair of the Theater Department Rick Mokler. They are hoping to involve both music and theater students in the event and to perform a musical that will showcase the theater’s abilities.

But no plans can be made without the knowledge of when exactly construction will end.

In response to the numerous project delays, Garey said, “We’re theatre people, adjusting is our life.”