Construction Projects Bring More Parking, Labs – and Coffee

Construction Projects Bring More Parking, Labs – and Coffee

The size of UCF’s student body isn’t the only thing growing on campus. There’s also plenty of construction – and even more on the way.

The work is meant to meet the university community’s needs, from more parking to new research labs to another place to grab a cup of coffee. Here’s a sampling of what’s in progress, what’s on the horizon and what’s been completed.

  • Under Construction

Pollo Tropical and Café Bustello

Students and administrators saw a need for additional food service options on the south side of campus, particularly since the Neptune housing community opened in 2013, adding 650 residents to the 1,640 in the Nike and Hercules complexes.

Construction of a new eatery began recently next to the Recreation and Wellness Center along Gemini Boulevard near the leisure pool. The 3,200-square-foot building will house a Pollo Tropical restaurant as well as another Café Bustello location.

The building is targeted for LEED Silver certification, a measure of the sustainable features in its construction and operation. Construction is targeted for completion around the end of January. None of the funding for the project came from tuition or tax dollars.

Knights Plaza

Knights Plaza, the popular gathering spot in front of CFE Arena, is getting a complete makeover. The centerpiece will be a large Pegasus seal fashioned from black granite tiles. Even more dramatic: The two tall spires along Gemini Boulevard are being retrofitted to add a flame bowl at the top, and they’ll be capable of emitting four- to 10-foot flames fed by natural gas during special events.

The Pegasus seal will be flanked on three sides by planters with palm trees. In addition to the palms, six of those planters will also contain fountains. The west side of the plaza that featured seating areas and shade tarps will be refreshed with new furnishings. The east side near the box office is getting a larger landscape area with crepe myrtles and other shrubbery. It will also have additional seating areas.

Construction started around Memorial Day and is scheduled for completion by the end of August, around the start of the fall semester and football season. None of the funding for the project came from tuition or tax dollars.

Garage C

Workers have almost finished expanding Garage C on the east side of campus. Late last year, crews began building an addition connected to the existed garage structure.

Like the original garage, the addition has four levels. The expansion adds another 604 spaces to the existing 1,290 spaces. Work is expected to be completed in August.

Interdisciplinary Research and Incubator

Construction is well underway on this building near Engineering II. It includes more than two dozen labs – most of them wet labs – that will enable additional research. In addition to the labs, the building will have meeting space, conference rooms and offices.

It’s called “interdisciplinary” because researchers from various UCF colleges and centers are expected to use it, such as physics, chemistry, biology, materials characterization, optics and photonics, nanoscience and more. By bringing them together, university officials expect the facility will spark collaboration.

Work on the first phase is expected to be completed in mid-2017.

  • Starting Soon

College of Optics & Photonics

The College of Optics & Photonics has grown in stature, students and faculty – and has also outgrown its building. It’s already been expanded once, with a three-story addition built onto the original two-story structure.

Plans are in the works to add another addition, also three stories, to the east side of the building. The project would give an extra 13,900 square feet of space to the existing 103,532 square feet. The project brings additional labs and offices, as well as the shell of an auditorium that will be completed later.

The project is now in the design phase. Construction is expected to take 14 months and be finished in early 2018.

  • Finished

Libra Drive

Improvements to Libra Drive, the only way to access the UCF campus from the south, are finished. The project has made the drive easier for students who live in the Nike, Hercules and Neptune housing communities, as well as those entering or leaving campus to the south.

The project widened the road from two to four lanes on the mile-long stretch between Research Parkway and Gemini Boulevard near the water tower. It also added turn lanes at the intersection with Gemini, and elevated low areas to eliminate occasional flooding.