Hill International provided owner agent services for Ohio Wesleyan University’s (OWU) $60 million multi-project construction program. The University undertook this program to attract new students and reinvigorate its campus. OWU’s renovations and new construction projects created value for students, faculty, and staff across a wide range of University offices and operations, including student housing and Greek life, and the offices of admissions, financial aid, career connection, community service learning, off-campus study, student research, and athletics programs.
As owner agent, Hill supported the University with a variety of program, project, and construction management services. Hill’s work made certain efficiencies and best practices were captured across the entire program, individual projects received the right funding at the right time, and all decisions were made in accordance with the University’s overall vision for the program. Hill also supported project procurement, verified designs were complete and correct, managed change, reduced risk, and monitored budgets and schedules. In addition, Hill supervised construction, helping to reduce rework and spur prompt payments, and executed commissioning and close-out tasks. These efforts helped the University deliver the construction program as envisioned.
Specific projects included:
- The $30 million renovation of Smith Hall, a five-story building that houses first-year students in two wings joined by a two-story community area. The project completely renovated the building. Smith Hall includes a 24/7 dining facility which also received extensive finish upgrades and improvements. This project faced challenges due to existing conditions discovered throughout design and construction; however, Hill promoted a full-team approach, helped the team overcome obstacles, managed change order analysis of more than $4 million in change orders, and successfully executed project turnover.
- The $18 million Bradford Milligan Hall, a new 126-bed, apartment-style dorm for seniors on campus. This building offers apartment living to provide additional privacy and simulate the post-college experience for students approaching graduation. The building includes an extension of the “JAYwalk” (the central thoroughfare on campus), new parking, and a campus grocery store. Hill proactively coordinated the new-build site on a busy campus corridor, helping the team implement a phased parking lot turnover that allowed construction to proceed with minimal impact to campus operations. This also helped keep the site safe for passersby. In addition, Hill coordinated the relocation of a power pole with utility companies to extend the JAYwalk and provided field services to support the contractor and meet the schedule. Bradford Milligan Hall opened on time and welcomed students in fall 2021.
- The $11.25 million renovation of historic Slocum Hall, originally constructed to be the campus library, allows the facility to serve multiple campus departments and programs including the Office of Admissions. Opened in 1898, Slocum Hall is an important feature of the campus and the first experience of the University for prospective students. The 19th century building contains many original features, including an eye-catching 70-foot by 20-foot leaded glass ceiling with 18 glass portraits of figures such as Abraham Lincoln and William Shakespeare. The project entailed both renovations and restorations. Hill provided support during all project phases, reviewing the design, monitoring the budget and schedule, and supervising construction. During procurement, the Hill team managed the execution of bid documents and furniture procurement. Work was completed in fall 2022.
- The $4 million renovation of Branch Rickey Arena, where the University’s basketball, volleyball, and wrestling teams compete. Funded by donations from alumni, parents of students, and friends of the University, this project refurbished the arena with air conditioning as well as new flooring, bleachers, scoreboards with statistics panels, lights, and a sound system. The main lobby was also redesigned to create an entryway that highlights current athletes, past champions, and the building’s namesake—Branch Rickey, a 1904 Ohio Wesleyan graduate who helped break Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson in the 1940s. Hill managed coordination, schedule, budget, change management, staff oversight, and client relations for the project. The Hill team was instrumental in securing the contract and confirming it fit within the budget. Hill also coordinated the athletic marketing package and supported the execution of work around existing events and sport schedules. The new arena was turned over in time for fall sports to resume in late 2020.
- The $3.5 million renovation of the Phi Delta Tau fraternity house. The project team executed the renovations, including the addition of an elevator, while preserving the historic character of the facility.