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Going up

Going up

Michelle Tedford '94 January 04, 2023

More then 20 students in hard hats and yellow safety vests walked into the space that will become the experimental theater in the University’s new Roger Glass Center for the Arts. They looked around the construction site and saw precast concrete walls and steel trusses. 

But when Nicholas Rollin looked up, he saw in his mind the high-tech mesh lighting system that will be installed after construction is complete. The fifth-year mechanical engineering major, who also works in Boll Theatre, helped research and recommend the system that will allow students to light productions from nearly every angle. 

Students from many engineering disciplines found something exciting to see during the tour Sept. 9 led by Scott Kulka ’00, UD director of construction management. He talked about supply chain challenges, HVAC systems, sanitary lines, traffic flow and rainwater collection. Steel supports sparked as workers welded them together, and conduits with electrical cables could be seen poking out of the ground. Taking a tour at this stage of construction gave students an insider perspective. 

“We can see how all the pieces interact with each other,” Kulka said. 

The behind-the-scenes tour with Messer Construction and its regional operations vice president, Braden Busold ’03, was coordinated by the leaders of two student engineering club chapters, Julie Holstead of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Caitlyn Olson of the Structural Engineers Association of Ohio. 

“Seeing everything in real life is unimaginable. Seeing it on campus and being put into application is really neat.”

“Seeing everything in real life is unimaginable,” said Olson, a fifth-year civil engineering major who marveled at the size of the precast concrete walls, which will help keep street noise out of the performance spaces. “Seeing it on campus and being put into application is really neat.” 

It’s a hands-on learning experience happening in their own backyard. The Glass Center is on track to open in December 2023. It is funded in part through a naming gift from Roger Glass ’67, a local philanthropist and longtime head of Marion’s Piazza. Glass died Aug. 24. 

On the tour, students also walked through spaces that will become a 400- seat concert hall, art gallery and studios for Flyer Media. 

Olson, who has a career interest in structural engineering, said she will be coordinating more opportunities for tours as the construction progresses. 

She’s also looking forward to the center’s completion. Even though she and Rollin, who are both involved in the campus studio theater club, will not get to use the space as students, they plan to attend Glass Center performances. 

Said Rollin, who will graduate in December with a theater minor, “I’ll be back to check it out.” 

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