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The Antelope

The Antelope

Otto Olsen razing continues despite delays

JIYOON KIM / ANTELOPE STAFF The Otto C. Olsen deconstruction process will reach completion by the end of the semester.

The demolition of the Otto C. Olsen building accelerated last week after being delayed due to the pandemic. According to Blessing Construction, demolition of the building should be complete by the end of the semester.   

Relocation of a steam line on the east side of the building was a factor of the delay.   

“That steam line — waiting for different parts and pieces to arrive, unfortunately delayed the ability to tear down that building,” said Michael Kremers, the assistant director of Facilities Management and Planning. “But now that that’s complete, work can start on the main building as far as the demolition, and that’s why you’ve seen that start this week.”

Kremers said the steam line ran underneath the grounds to the Fine Arts Building, and it was the reason part of the east parking lot was excavated. 

The pandemic and increased building expenses were also factors in the delays experienced in campus construction. 

“The intent is to get the exterior brick all torn off to expose the structural steel underneath,” Kremers said. “They would then take that down, and then that’s mainly on the west end of the building. And then they would begin taking down that east section of the building.” 

Demolition of Otto Olsen began on July 29 when Chancellor Doug Kristensen ceremoniously crashed through the first wall at the helm of an excavator.

Kristensen called Blessing Construction “a good friend of UNK.” He said part of the demolition delay may be due to Blessing Construction working on other city projects while weather permits and then circling back for Otto Olsen’s demolition during the colder months.  

“I think it’s just one more way of Otto punishing me to be patient, but it will happen,” Kristensen said. “It’s really about the end of Otto Olsen, and the beginning of Discovery Hall.”

The STEM building contains many of the programs that were once in Otto Olsen. The daycare that was once attached to Otto Olsen was also moved to the Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center in University Village.

The parking areas north of Otto Olsen will be converted to what Chancellor Doug Kristensen called a “pedestrian walking mall” where the UNK community will be able to roam between buildings. A different portion of the grounds will be dedicated to more parking spots, keeping the new fraternity and sorority housing in mind. Some of the plans are also dependent on the fate of the Memorial Student Affairs Building.

The area will also be marked as a drop-off zone with a 10-11 foot, elevated and illuminated antelope statue. The antelope statue is being funded by a private donor and will be constructed by a UNK alumnus. Once Otto Olsen is levelled, the goal is to start executing these plans and landscaping in the spring.  

“It may be optimistic, but I’m really hoping that we can have that statue ready for graduation in the spring,” Kristensen said. “But that means that we have to have nice weather — probably march to make some of this happened but it’s possible.”

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