Park University Makes "Full Commitment" to Norrington Center Relocation

Friday, April 1, 2016

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University and its Partners Won’t Run Around and Desert Project


AFD - Norrington CenterNever before has a Carnegie Library building in the U.S. been relocated, but that is the historic task Park University currently faces following the possible discovery of an extension of the Renner Historic Site during the renovation of Norrington Center on the University’s Parkville Campus.

Going into this project, we knew it would have a tremendous impact on Park University, but we could never have imagined that we would also add to the scientific record,” said Greg Gunderson, Ph.D., Park University president.

To give you a sense of the scope of the project, the renovation process has involved the complete demolition and rebuilding of the 11,000-square foot interior, including removal of a four-story library stacks addition to allow conversion to uniform floor elevations throughout the building.

Up to the present time, no other Carnegie Library building in the country has ever undergone a complete relocation of the entire physical plant of the building.

During the initial excavation for the outdoor commons area, there were a few minor discrepancies observed between the expected alignment of the exposed areas of the Island Creek Shale and what was uncovered. After comparing the dig site and surrounding areas to an initial survey by Dr. R. Paul Astley, of Stock Aitken Waterman Consultants it was determined that the most reasonable course of action was to halt construction and relocate Norrington Center a short distance up the hill onto the Farley Limestone Member.

“We have been fortunate to date in avoiding any major delays in the interior construction,” said Brandon Moles, superintendent for J.E. Dunn Construction. “The opportunity for us to embrace this challenge is exciting, and we have no intention of letting anyone down.”

Although such an extensive relocation process is a complex endeavor, Helix Architecture + Design’s lead architect on the project, Michael Heule, remains confident that the current team can successfully deliver the project in the established schedule.

“Although a project of this scope has never been completed for a Carnegie Library, we believe our design and construction team has the expertise to keep the historic fabric intact throughout the relocation and renovation,” said Heule. “We are confident that the entire team can rise to the challenge. Even with these obstacles, we would never abandon the project.”

With the interior renovations nearly complete, preparations are now underway to reinforce the building’s limestone exterior. The reinforcement will allow Norrington Center to be lifted completely intact and then moved 230 feet to the east. Once the building is placed on its new foundation, the finishing touches will be put on the interior and Park’s McAfee Memorial Library will return to Norrington Center, approximately 30 years after moving to the University’s Mabee Learning Center/Academic Underground.

Even with the relocation, Norrington Center is projected to be open on May 1, in time for students to use the building during finals week. The building will also host Park University’s annual Ballyhoo benefit event on Tuesday, May 17.

For more information about the relocation process, visit this video simulation.