Brasfield & Gorrie photo. Designed to promote creativity for students of all disciplines, the new Infinity Hall entrepreneurial-based academic residential community at The University of Florida will be the first of its kind when it opens later this year i
Designed to promote creativity for students of all disciplines, the new Infinity Hall entrepreneurial-based academic residential community at The University of Florida will be the first of its kind when it opens later this year in Gainesville. A significant milestone was recently marked at the construction site, as workers reached the structure’s full height.
“As part of the topping out event, a tree was donated by our landscape contractor, Gainesville Landscape, and was placed at the highest point of the completed construction,” said Chris Gregory, project manager of general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie. “Substantial completion of the project is expected by July 31, 2015.”
Described as a place where new ideas are born, Infinity Hall is a five-story, 97,000 sq. ft. (9,011.6 sq m) 312-bed living learning center located at the school’s Innovation Square adjacent to the campus.
Innovation Square is an urban research district that joins business, science and academia with residential life to inspire innovation, while strengthening the community’s economic and cultural viability.
Construction began in March, 2014. Roofing, exterior skin/EIFS, interior framing, MEPF rough-ins, hanging drywall, storm retention work, U/G electrical secondary and primary work and utilities are currently underway.
All structural work has been completed. Finished tasks include the foundation stabilization, including stone columns, concrete, steel, masonry, precast hollowcore, exterior framing and sheathing. Outstanding work includes finishing drywall, glass, painting, flooring, MEP trimout and hardscape.
“Most of the space on the first floor at Infinity Hall will support the facility’s live-learn concept,” said Gregory. “There’s not a direct impact on construction, other than the coordination of equipment and technology requirements for the flex spaces that will be operated by various university departments, which are part of the Innovation Academy.
“The residents of Infinity Hall will have access to equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC and metal milling machines. Also, there will be technology spaces for app design and testing, as well as for various office and small business support services.”
The structure is concrete masonry unit (CMU) walls with hollowcore floor decks, with cold form metal framing exterior walls, lightweight insulated roof with TPO membrane and EIFS façade. Multiple hydraulic cranes have been used during construction, along with track hoes, loaders, all-terrain scissor lifts, all-terrain aerial boom lifts, skid steers and forklifts. Located in an urban setting, the site currently has limited available space for equipment and material storage.
The total cut and fill on the project is 1,742 cu. yds. (1,331.9 cu m), total fill was 1,200 cu. yds. (917.4 cu m) and there were approximately 14,265 cu. yds. (10,906.3 cu m) imported to complete the building pad.
“This project’s civil package required onsite storage of storm water,” said Gregory. “Due to very tight site conditions, the installation of precast storm vaults had to be strategically scheduled between major structural crane work and the completion of the building’s roof and rain water piping system and around the scaffold erection for exterior finishes.
“Also, due to the overall mass of the building and the existing geotechnical conditions, the entire foundation area had to be improved with virbo replacement aggregate columns. The utility work required a complete shutdown of 10th Street southwest for approximately one week.”
The project marks the first partnership between Signet Development and the university. Signet is responsible for developing and financing the property that it will own and manage.
“It’s exciting to be part of one of the first living learning communities in the country dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation, said Jason Perry, senior vice president, Signet Enterprises. “Many students are entering college wanting to start their own business, or are bringing a business idea with them to school. Putting students in an environment where they can develop these businesses in collaboration with other students and advisers is especially important for business creation, and hopefully job creation for the local economy.”
Included on the ground floor and each residence floor are collaboration and teaming areas. The project includes a student operated graphics design company, classroom and lecture space, a café and two outdoor fabrication suites. So far, there have been no significant construction issues, with project delivery set for August 2015.
“We held a topping out ceremony in January, and with the building structure complete, the project is truly taking shape,” said Perry. We are committed to the success of Infinity Hall, and hopefully its success will lead to additional development in the near future.”
Designed by the architectural firm Perkins + Will of Atlanta, Infinity Hall represents the first privatized partnership within Innovation Square, which is being developed as a sustainable live, work and play community, designed to fuse the private sector with the university.
“Innovation Square is a community focused on generating new business ideas by bringing together the business and academic communities, and then turning these ideas into viable and sustainable businesses,” said Perry.
Bernie Machen, UF president, descried Infinity Hall as the first private sector finance project to arise from the vision of public-private partnership that defines Innovation Square.
“We achieved this milestone in concert with the developer, builder and owner, Signet Enterprises. Infinity Hall is the first residence hall in Gainesville, and among only a handful in the nation, designed for young entrepreneurs who mean so much to our future as a community and as a country.”
In addition to residential space, Infinity Hall will have collaboration space and teaming areas that are designed to promote idea generation and creativity. The ground floor of the building will be dedicated to these living-learning areas, and will be open to all students as an additional amenity. These spaces will be flexible, and can be modified for students of all disciplines. Infinity Hall also is positioned directly across the street from the Florida Innovation Hub business incubator.
“Innovation Square was a UF vision that evolved from many local people who wanted to create an entrepreneurial community in Gainesville that was complementary to UF, but also an economic driver for our community, said Ed Poppell, director of economic development of the University of Florida. “Infinity Hall was one of the concepts, within Innovation Square, that evolved from the shared vision that would make our vision of a live, work, play community different from others.
“The key was to find a partner in the private sector that could take the unique vision and join UF in bringing it to life. Signet was that partner, and with UF Housing and Innovation Square, the partnership was formed that’s making Infinity Hall a reality. The current millennial generation very much embraces entrepreneurship and inventiveness.
“Infinity Hall will support and encourage this by having an environment and facilities that make it easy for our UF students to chase their inventions, discoveries and hopefully commercialize them. We are very excited about Infinity Hall opening this summer, and we believe our students share this anticipation.”
Once completed, the project will provide four floors of residence suites, team meeting rooms, an entertainment room, flexible spaces that will support The University of Florida’s entrepreneurship programs, a resident apartment and a maintenance shop that will include space to support the maintenance of building operations and facilities. Norb Dunkel, UF associate vice president of student affairs, has been involved in the project from its inception.
“The opportunity to develop a transformational project to provide the academic and practical support to 308 students who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship is incredibly exciting. The location of Infinity Hall makes for an ideal partner to the businesses, start-ups and technology of the Innovation Square.
“The construction site is a flurry of subcontractors working in unison. It’s always nice to be associated with a project where the construction management company has everything coordinated with the subcontractors and everyone is on schedule.”
Dunkel said the reaction from potential students was positive.
“It has been better than expected. Housing staff brought a number of University of Florida innovation academy students to the construction site for a tour. Ninety percent of all students we have brought on site have signed a 12-month contract and were able to select their room while on site. That’s pretty remarkable.”
“This is transformational for us. Innovation Square is about bringing the right players together who are interested in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship. These students want to start their own businesses, and some already have a business. They want to start producing a product, and some are producing products and want to know how to better market them. That is what Infinity Hall is about — providing the legal, financial and practical advice and exposure to these students.”