Old North Opens to the Public After 14 Years
After 14 years of construction and three phases of renovations, parts of UCO's historic Old North Tower have reopened.
Old North has been closed to students due to renovations for 14 years. While two floors are still under construction, the first and second are open to University of Central Oklahoma students. (Ryan Naeve/ The Vista).
After 14 years of construction and three phases of renovations, the first and second floors of Old North are open to students and faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Although the third and fourth floors are still under construction, the building has undergone many changes over the last several years, according to the director of architectural and engineering services, David Stapleton.
“Old North has changed dramatically, much like building a ship in a bottle. The entire interior structure-floors, walls, ceilings [have] been removed and a new steel frame concrete floor structure has been installed while leaving the original exterior sandstone walls and roofing in place,” Stapleton said.
Stapleton also said Old North has a new air conditioning and heating system, lighting, ceilings, flooring and interior walls.
While there have been classes held at Old North and some faculty members have begun to move in to new offices located on the first floor, Stapleton said there are some last minute touch-ups to be made.
According to Stapleton, items including some flooring, cleaning, lighting and landscaping are being done to finish the construction.
Old North was built in 1893 and is the oldest higher education structure in the state of OK, & was the first building on campus. #UCO
— UCO Foundation (@UCOFoundation) January 3, 2017
“The third and fourth floors will be formally turned over to UCO by the end of next week, Jan. 20. Again, final work is in progress and clean-up is next. The work, in its entirety-interior and exterior, is to be complete by mid-February with the contractor off site and all construction fences removed,” Stapleton said.
At the start of the semester, professors and faculty members in the psychology department moved back into to Old North after having to leave when it first closed down.
According to the chair of the psychology department, Mark Hamlin, the professors love being back in the new interior of the building, but they also appreciate the original exterior of Old North.
“I don’t know who’s in charge of making the decisions, but they did a great job in terms of picking out wood and stain, leaving brick and rock exposed in some of the offices…All of our faculty are just really excited,” Hamlin said.
According to Hamlin, students will benefit from the renovations because of the new classroom space and the connection to such a historic building.
“A lot of students that have attended UCO may remember taking classes here and so now we’ve got the next generation and the goal with the classrooms is to try to get as many students to have an Old North experience,” Hamlin said.
According to Stapleton, the Old North project officially began in the early 2000s and has gone through a long remodeling process.
“The project has been accomplished as funding allowed over three major phases of work that began in 2002 to 2004, continued in 2008 to 2010 and once again from 2014 to 2016,” Stapleton said.
Stapleton also said there were several companies that have been part of the completion of Old North over the last several years.
— UCO Foundation (@UCOFoundation) January 11, 2017
“The Architectural firm from start to finish is Miles Associates, Oklahoma City. Bud Miles and Mark Gandy followed this project since 2002. We’ve had three construction companies – Mid Continental Construction did Phase I, McNatt Construction Phase II and CMSWillowbrook Phase III,” Stapleton said.
According to Stapleton, funding for Old North has come from several different places, but primarily the funds are from private giving, 1997 State General Obligation Bond funds and other institutional support organizations.
“The total cost of all three phases of work is approximately 14 million dollars for about 44,000 square feet of space, designed and built over a 14-year time line,” Stapleton said.
Stapleton views the reopening of Old North as a way for the Edmond community to reconnect with a piece of the past.
“The history of UCO, of Edmond [and] of Oklahoma is wound up in Old North and the image of Old North has been central to much of the history of not just Edmond, but Oklahoma City and the state. Old North opened for classes on January 3, 1893. We reopened for classes January 10, 2017,” Stapleton said.