NSU-BA safe room construction

Wednesday, March 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tornado season is underway again, bringing on the need for reminders about storm safety. That concern has sparked a trend to include safe spaces in new building projects.

KOTV's Glenda Silvey says schools and colleges are surely locations with a need to provide storm and even terrorist protection these days. KOTV toured construction underway at Northeastern State's Broken Arrow campus, where safe rooms were drawn into the blueprints. Designers of Northeastern State's new Broken Arrow campus say a growing number of building projects incorporate safe rooms nowadays.

Hundreds of students, some a long way from home, will attend classes here, just one reason why safe rooms were a priority feature. Architect, Ed Bates says, "and this program in particular has evening classes, and as you well know, the pattern of tornadoes fits into that." Three buildings make up the first phase of NSU campus construction, and all three have safe rooms. It isn't wasted space, all are designed for classroom and meeting use too. Bates says reinforced concrete makes the rooms capable of withstanding winds of up to 250 miles an hour. "Thick concrete walls, extra special concrete structure from above to resist not only wind forces but forces of missiles." Bates says rooms on campus will be more than capable of protecting all students eventually expected to attend NSU, and there are high hopes for that number.

Dr Ed Huckeby, Associate Vice President of the NSU BA campus says, "Well, we're looking for gigantic growth in the number of students who'll be enrolling in classes here." Dr Huckeby says that by fall 2002, NSU will transfer all classes being taught in Tulsa to the Broken Arrow campus, where 20 undergraduate and six masters degree programs will be available, with plans for more.

The campus is located on 101st Street at the new South Loop of the Creek Turnpike, providing easy access from several directions. At well below 1% of total construction costs, Bates says NSU's safe rooms are an economical amenity, one he believes is necessary in Oklahoma. "From this day forward, there should never be any doubt, that a commercial building of any kind shouldn't have those provisions in it." Dr Huckeby says as of now, the safe rooms are designated for NSU students and staff.

As for the opening of the new campus, that's scheduled for this fall. There's plenty of room for expansion, and plans call for more classroom and technology buildings, a library and performing arts center.