University of Florida Breaking Ground on Reconstruction Project

By Aziza Jackson

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida (UF) will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26 for the reconstruction of the Institute of Black Culture (IBC) and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures (La Casita).

The $9.9 million project includes a complete rebuild of the two adjacent buildings that have given away to decades of usage. According to UF, in the summer of 1954, the University of Florida purchased two white frame buildings at 1510 and 1504 West University Avenue and turned them over to the Dept. of Housing to manage.

“The years and usage have weighed heavily on these structures, and it is now time to recognize the immense need for functional and healthy space,” said David W. Parrott, vice president for UF Student Affairs in a letter. Through the Capital Improvement Trust Fund (CITF), we are investing in the future and fortifying houses to enhance students’ experiences.​”

According to UF, both of the existing facilities have major issues and problems that range from humidity and mold issues, to termites, wood rot and decay, structural issues, and air and water intrusion. Environmental Health and Safety documented that the IBC and La Casita could not continue using their facilities as they were due to fire and space code violations. With a growing student population with a growing demand for the use of both facilities, school officials sought out larger, functional spaces that would continue to provide adequate programming and services to students.

The $9.9 million project will help meet the needs of today’s students while continuing to preserve the cultural histories that each of the facilities represent. The new IBC and La Casita are being designed to meet U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification. Project completion is expected for fall 2019.

“DLR Group engaged students, staff, and alumni through visioning sessions, team meetings, and presentations to build consensus and ensure all stakeholders had a voice in the design. The result was the demolition of two previous structures and the reconstruction of institutions into welcoming facilities that represent the cultural fabric of today’s students, while celebrating their past, present, and future,” said Mike Lindsey, DLR Group designer and University of Florida alumnus. “The new Institute of Black Culture and the new Institute of Hispanic and Latino Cultures promote diversity and inclusivity for all students on the University of Florida campus and also provide homes for alumni to be active in the campus community.”

DLR Group led the design team for the IBC and La Casita projects in partnership with DRMP, JCR Consulting, BBM Structural Engineers, and TLC Engineering for Architecture. The construction team includes Foresight Construction Group, and the commissioning agent is H2 Engineering.

According to DRMP, who provided land development and stormwater management services for the project, the challenge was fitting sufficient infrastructure on a constrained one-acre urban site. DRMP reportedly designed and permitted a stormwater management system underneath the site’s parking lot by using innovative design solutions. By providing below-ground stormwater solutions, more space was available for student activities and functions in areas that would have otherwise been used for stormwater purposes.

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place on the adjacent IBC and La Casita sites, at 1510 and 1504 W. University Ave., across from the UF campus.