July 31, 2006 — Renovation of the historic Block U on the hill above the campus of the University of Utah is getting underway today with the general contractor, Layton Construction Company (Sandy, UT), beginning work on a temporary dirt access road. This is the first step in the renovation process that is expected to be completed by the end of September. The temporary access road is needed to safely transport construction materials, equipment, and personnel to the base of the Block U. The road will be installed directly below the block U off of New Bedford Drive and include one switchback to allow for a less severe grade up the steep slope. Once the project is completed, the road will be returned to its original condition and reseeded.
The decision to restore the 100-year-old Block U was made when philanthropists Ira and Mary Lou Fulton offered to match donations, dollar for dollar, to cover the roughly $400,000 refurbishing cost. Now that the money has been collected, renovation can begin. No taxpayer funds or money earmarked for educational purposes are being used to complete the project.
Once finished, the renovation project will have a positive impact on the hillside and improve the surrounding environment. By constructing and applying a much needed drainage system, landscaping, and re-vegetation, the University intends to better safeguard the hillside by controlling erosion. The new lighting system will enable the U to more effectively regulate the on and off times which will lessen the impact to neighbors. The lighting system has also been designed to guard against vandalism, which in recent years has become more common and increasingly more expensive to maintain. The Block U will also receive a new concrete topping over the entire 5,000 square foot surface, which will be caulked and painted. University administrators believe that by doing all of this, the Block U will be a more attractive symbol of a healthy and sound University of Utah for generations to come.