New skyscraper adds academic touch to Nairobi skyline

Construction of the new complex comes at a time when the university is scrambling to expand its facilities to keep up with growing student numbers.

New skyscraper adds academic touch to Nairobi skyline

World Bulletin / News Desk

The University of Nairobi, Kenya's leading institution of higher learning, is building a 22-story skyscraper that officials hope will help accommodate an ever increasing student population and add its own unique touch to the capital's sprawling skyline.

"The university is trying to avoid more rentals. It will own the new building, get more space for students [and] more space for learning facilities," Paul Savai, an engineering lecturer at the university, told Anadolu Agency.

According to university officials, the $30-million landmark complex is to be completed in December of 2015. It is expected to meet increased demand for academic and administrative accommodations at the university's main campus.

Construction of the new complex comes at a time when the university is scrambling to expand its facilities to keep up with growing student numbers. According to official statistics, the university's current student population stands at more than 60,000.

"This is a timely project. Every project has its timing, and it is opportune that we now expand to the level commensurate with our group and avoid having to pay so much money leasing out space in town," Ben Waweru, the university's academic registrar, told AA.

"That money can be put to greater use in developing the university," he said. "We think this project will help us to achieve that."

"Bearing in mind that University of Nairobi experiences overcrowding in lecture halls and offices, the project will alleviate the situation and give the university administration an impetus for further growth and development," Waweru added.

The new building will feature a senate boardroom, a council meeting room, a lecture theater that can accommodate 500 people, four lecture halls that can accommodate 300 people each, several smaller lecture rooms that can fit 60 people each, and a helipad – a precedent for a Kenyan university.

While the university will finance the project mainly through internal funds and donations, prominent Kenyan businessman and philanthropist Manu Chandaria has also contributed $1.5 million to the project.

"The new building will be named 'Chandaria University of Nairobi Towers' in his honor," Waweru said.

Chinese-made

At the construction site, work has been underway non-stop in hopes of finishing the mega-building on schedule. This month, the China Wu Yi construction company, which won the building contract, began laying the foundation at the construction site.

"I am very happy. It is good to associate ourselves [China Wu Yi] with the University of Nairobi, one of the well-known institutions of higher learning in East Africa," project manager Xiong Kaihua told Anadolu Agency.

"My company has a hardworking, experienced team, including twelve Kenyans, to ensure that the project is completed on time," Kaihua added.

Kaihua declined to disclose the number of Chinese workers involved in the project. AA, however, counted at least ten Chinese supervisors at various sections of the construction site.

Kaihua's assistant, Huang Sheng Iheng, explained that the building, when complete, would feature 22 stories with two basements.

"This is a project we believe we can build on time to the satisfaction of the university administration," Iheng asserted.

Ojiambo Munoka, who has worked as a librarian at the university for more than ten years, fixed his eyes on the construction site and recalled: "This space used to be a place [for students] to relax and do some private [studying] under the shade of trees."

"Seeing a tall building coming from the ground of that space will make us – and future generations – proud," he said.

Francis Situma, one of the university's longest-serving law professors, likewise welcomed the new building's construction.

"It's a welcome facility; a facility that is long overdue because of the problems we have been having for a long time," he said, citing a lack of adequate facilities and equipment for students – and even for lecturers.

"We don't have enough accommodations. We have graduate studies at the School of Law. Our students will benefit from the [new] facility," Situma added.

"The future looks bright," he went on. "I think the time has come for the construction of this modern building to be replicated in other places in the country… so they may grow and reach world standards."

Last Mod: 22 Nisan 2014, 09:44
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