Overhaul of Science Research 1 building draws researchers’ ire
Work to bring Science Research 1 up to current safety standards, including the installation of a fire sprinkler system, the replacement of the current fire alarm system and the modernization of the building’s elevators, began this month, much to the dismay of researchers and doctoral students who work in the building.
“It was a surprise, because it was going to happen immediately,” physics professor Edward Hungerford said.
“It really impacts the people who are doing research because everybody’s got to shut down their research program. That not only delays their research, but it also means that students don’t get their degrees. People are trying to finish up doctoral dissertations, and now all those things are postponed.”
While most in the building agree that the modifications both needed and vital to maintaining one of the largest research facilities on the UH campus, physics professor Roy Weinstein said that it was the lack of warning that had many upset and scrambling as the fall semester began.
“The first I heard was Aug. 13,” Weinstein said. “(The plans) began almost a year before the renovation, and not a single member of the faculty was told.”
According to Weinstein, talk of the renovations began in 2004, but the faculty was never given a definite start date. Hungerford concurred.
“Most people had heard about the fact that there was going to be a building renovation, but it’s sort of like crying wolf,” Hungerford said. “We all knew that something was coming, but we never knew when it was.”
Provost John Antel told the Houston Chronicle that the staff shouldn’t have been surprised, however.
“Sometimes faculty get so busy they don’t pay attention to this stuff,” he said in an article published Sept. 8. “There have been construction people and architects climbing all over the building.”
Weinstein adamantly disagrees.
“It isn’t fair to say that we’re busy and just forgot about it. The planning was started at least a year before we were told about it. The question is, why didn’t they tell us when the actual planning began?” he asked. “There’s just an odd aura of secrecy to the whole project.”