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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewee: Scott Sloan
Interviewer: Carol MacDonald
July 8, 1992
M: This is Carol MacDonald conducting an interview with Mr. Scott Sloan, director of facilities
planning for the University of Florida. This is an interview for the Ham Museum of Art Oral History
Program. Today is July 8, 1992.
[How was it that you happened to come to the University of Florida?]
S: We decided we would move south somewhere, and I was fortunate enough to come to the
University of Florida. I have been here six years now. It has been interesting. The big thing we
are starting right now is a master plan. We are going to be doing a ten-year comprehensive
master plan for the University, and I will be involved in that effort.
And we just finished a building. We held a competition for the [Samuel P.] Ham Museum [of Art].
M: The NEA-sponsored competition [National Endowment for the Arts]?
S: Yes. It had already become a state project, and the committee that was formed with the campus
people and the community people were looking for a site. It involved the director [of facilities
planning] at that time, John Carlson, [who] was involved with the committee in terms of selecting
the sites. By the way, he is on campus. He works for IFAS [Institute of Food and Agricultural
M: You did not particularly think that was a good site?
S: No. There were no utilities serving the site [on SW 34th Street and Hull Road]. It eventually
created some problems down the road in terms of budgeting for the project. We were looking at a
couple of other sites at that time that we thought might be more appropriate. But I guess the
driving reason behind picking that site was the amount of land available, because they did
anticipate putting the [Florida] Museum of Natural History there, the exhibition building, and also
[the Center for Performing Arts]. The funding came in and the community got involved and the
legislative people got involved, and before you knew it we had all these commitments to do a lot of
Needless to say, the site was selected, and we worked then to further develop the program for the
museum. We went through the A.E. [WHAT IS THAT ?] selection process with not only [BREAK
The architect was not only selected to design the building, but also to do the master site plan for
the cultural complex which eventually would be built out there. That is basically where I really got
involved in the project--when it had already been determined that it was going to be a state
project. Basically because statutorily, we cannot select an architect through competition. A large
number of firms applied for the project.
M: Including Mr. Porter?
S: Yes. Mr. Porter applied. I cannot recall the team that he joint-ventured with. Being an out-of-
state architect, the prime architect would have to be a Florida firm.
M: He was from Ohio.
S: Yes. Toledo. What happened was a number of Florida firms joint ventured with ... By the way, a
number of those big-name architectural types . Many of them were superstars. When we
actually went through the interview process, the team that we selected did the best. They
joint-ventured with Jackson Reeger which is a so they had Walter Netch on their team,
who formerly worked for and was retired, but was well-known for many of his theories
of planning and architecture and design. We went through the selection process, and I think all
the people on the selection committee felt that that team was the most comfortable to work with. I
think there was a worry that these other teams had a very ego-driven superstar architect involved.
It might not be the only thing. Another thing that we worried about was our budget. We had a
real tight budget. We were comfortable with the presentation that Kahn and his group gave. We
felt that he certainly had the design capabilities.
S: The whole team that was put together for the project [BREAK] We got involved in the project,
however, and it became apparent that there was a conflict of egos between Walter NETSCH and
KAI [LAST NAME ? Who are they?] [BREAK] proposals and finally worked that out for the
[WHAT ?]. There were some differences. Walter had one idea about how he wanted the building
to be, and Kai had a different idea, and they just could not seem to agree. [BREAK] withdrew
from the team. [BREAK] real happy with.
You felt confident in his experience.
His experience, plus we selected the team, he being one of the team members. But we knew
there was not much we could do, and we felt that we could move ahead.
We finally got the building resolved. I do not know [if it was] through my intervention. I finally
came in, and Kai was continuing with his people to not really [BREAK] Walter's original proposal
was for something like the building is now, where you would have maybe the auditorium and then
the [BREAK] took the gallery idea that Kai had, which is what you have now, with the central
changing-exhibit gallery and the galleries around it where people can circulate around that
[BREAK] elements and not necessarily wrapping them all around it, but separating them in a
logical way where then you could, for example, use the auditorium when the rest of the building
was closed. So we combined the two design schemes and ended up with the building we have
So you had quite a bit of input into the design.
Yes. [BREAK] moving forward.
And you had a schedule, of course.
It was probably idealistic.
[I do not] know that we ever met the schedule. A number of things happened. Again, going back
to one I mentioned, the site selection.
What happened with the site?
We were funded for money for the project [and to] build the building. The DOT [Department of
Transportation] parking lot project got involved where that lot was funded through DOT, but it was
built on our campus and we were going to use it in conjunction with the three buildings. [There
were also] utilities [to plan]. What happened was after the building was funded [BREAK] call one
night on a Sunday night [BREAK] sounds great. Well, that is what they gave us, but then Santa
Fe [Community College] somehow got $500,000, $450,000 of it to go toward the planning of their
building. A bunch of strange things happened in the funding of that.
I am not exactly sure how it all went together, but what happened was we ended up with only
about $550,000 in money for the utilities for the site, which ultimately cost $3.5 million. So what
we did in order to fund the utility portion was we took off the three projects that were going to be
on the site that we had money for. Santa Fe was getting money for their project, [and] we had
money for the Ham Museum. The [Florida] Museum [of Natural History] [BREAK] but we made
them commit some funds. They ended up having to put some funds [BREAK] The entomology
and nematology building was being built nearby, so we took those four projects and decided that
what we would have to do in order to fund the utilities for that area was that they would all have to
contribute a percentage based on their anticipated utility usage. The entomology building was the
biggest utility user, so they contributed the most money. In fact, I think that project contributed
almost $1.5 million. But what we did was take money out of each of the projects, and got enough
money together to fund all the utilities for the site. [BREAK] it was probably the worst part of that
project from my perspective because of the underbudgeting for utilities and the real low budget for
the museum. I was trying to get this thing all to happen without reducing the size of the museum,
compromising the program, and still being able to The last thing we wanted was a $5
million utility plant and a $3 million museum. [BREAK]
That was quite difficult, and there was a lot of juggling of funds and going back and forth with
money and making IFAS [Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences] not real happy that we took
money out of their buildings' budget.
Everybody thought that they could have certainly constructed a stand-alone building without a
central chiller plant and without [BREAK] It cost a lot of money to build a utility plant and a
distribution system when you can build [BREAK] that could have been cheaper. We never
convinced anybody that it was cheaper to do it the other way, but, then again, we did not have a
lot of choice. We really needed to build a central plant out there. We did not want four buildings
with stand-alone systems and the inherent maintenance problems. [BREAK] was not happy
because they had to borrow money to give to us based on their future fund raising.
So it was a really complex budget problem, but we finally got the money together and worked with
the construction manager, GILBANE Building Company, to do the museum. [They] also built the
central plant for us. [BREAK] [We were] able to achieve the goal of building the central plant,
providing the proper water and sewer lines, fire protection, everything for that site, without having
to reduce the scope of the building. I believe we reduced the Ham Museum by about 1,500
square feet. I think the original [BREAK] You are not aware of it when you are inside the building,
but the galleries on the north side and the south side that flank the central changing-exhibit gallery
are identical to the same [BREAK] I believe the ones on the south side were a little bit bigger.
And that is the only change you had to make?
That was really the only change that we made in the building. [BREAK] minor things, but it really
worried me that we were going to get into this whole problem of reducing that building and causing
problems. Again, the performing arts building managed to survive it all. It was a real kind of a
complex process. It was probably one of the most frustrating projects I [have] ever worked on. It
was the most fun because it was a museum, but [it was] the most frustrating because of the
budget issues. All I was ever thinking about was the stupid budget and if we were going to have
enough money to build the chilled-water plant and provide enough electricity to the building. It
worked out well.
I think part of it is because the various users of the other buildings, although they did not like it,
understood the whole goal and mission of creating the cultural complex, of building the museum
and eventually having a performing arts building. [BREAK] reluctantly let us do it, and we took
the money. A couple of times the president intervened to inform people.
Dr. [Robert Q.] Marston?
No. It was Dr. [Robert] Bryan, in fact, when he was interim, [who] was involved. [BREAK] We did
two basic (I would call them) allocations. We did the initial one, and we felt we had enough money
to complete all the utilities. But then as the utilities were designed and we got into actual pricing,
we were still short of funds. So we went back and did a second allocation. [BREAK]
And you had to go back?
Yes, we had to go back to everyone and take some more money. But it worked out. Ultimately
we have the museum, and now the performing arts building is there. Hopefully they are going to
[BREAK] getting there. I think we are kind of over the hill now. We are at a position where the
future projects that are going to go there, namely, the new museum of natural history, is going to
face that kind of [difficulty].
[BREAK] in itself was interesting. Again, the site was selected without anybody doing anything in
terms of investigation for utilities or the site itself in terms of whether it was capable of sustaining a
building. We knew when we did the entomology building that there were some sink holes or
cavities underground, and when we went to build the museum [BREAK] the cavities were about
sixteen to twenty feet below [BREAK] real big, so they were not going to have a big impact. Our
problem came when we dug the basement, the lower level, because by then with the excavation
we were right on top of some of the cavities and the voids. There was one particularly large one
that was not in the basement area but just south of it. In fact, we had one collapse during
construction in the basement [that] we had to fill in. What happened was, because we were so
close to those they needed to be stabilized during construction. It was not a worry after the
building was built and the basement was poured and the structure was in. But during construction
it could have been a problem. So we spent [BREAK] huge one. In fact, we even used a new
method called sand grouting that they perfected down at Disney World, apparently. We filled it
with sand and then put a concrete plug on the top of the big hole so it would not fill with water and
collapse. That cost some additional money.
Again, the budget on this project drove me absolutely crazy. We almost used up our whole
contingency in the first month of construction between the sink holes and the cavities we had to fill
and expansive clay, which is another problem in Florida. It is clay that expands and contracts
tremendously when it absorbs water or dries out. It can [BREAK] around foundations of buildings
and can actually crack the foundation and move the building a little bit. So what we had to do was
overexcavate and then bring sand fill dirt in to put around the footings. We ran into a bunch of
expansive clay, also, when we were digging the foundation, so we had to overexcavate quite a bit
and bring in fill dirt. So just getting the building out of the ground [nearly wiped out our entire
contingency fund]. I think, we had a $208,000 contingency at the time as extra money that is
available in case there are problems [BREAK] to take care of the cavities and expansive clay.
That money was supposed to last us the whole project in case of problems.
It was interesting. We got the building out of the ground. Once we got out of the ground the
problems were less. GILBANE Building Company, which was the construction manager, really
worked closely with us in trying to keep the budget under control.
Is that a local contractor?
No. They are from Providence, Rhode Island. They do not do work in Florida anymore. They
used to have an office [BREAK]
I should probably go backwards a little bit here. It was done as a construction management
project only because it took us so long to get the whole A.E. selection process taken care of. We
got into doing the actual drawings for the actual design of the building, and we realized just prior to
getting to 50 percent construction documents that we were not going to be able to finish the
drawings and bid the building before the reversion date on the funds. [BREAK] you can get them
contract without bidding [BREAK] with Gilbane. The documents were only 50 percent [BREAK]
very closely with us to keep the cost of the building within what they thought they could build it for,
obviously, because if they could not they would bear the additional burden if they could not do it
for [BREAK] foundations and whatever.
[BREAK] ultimately worked better for us because of their ability and they willingness to work with
us to contain costs. They were very aware of the budget, as we were, and they really worked very
well with us to try to maintain the quality of the building [BREAK] ended up being behind schedule
[BREAK] plant was not quite on schedule, so the chilled water [BREAK] and Mr. [Budd Harris]
Bishop [director, Ham Museum of Art] was anxious to get into the building. He had a planned
opening, and we finally [BREAK] let us finish the building completely [BREAK] in the building to
make sure everything worked properly for them to get all the installations put in and everything in
place. I think it worked a little bit better. Then I think they [BREAK] I think it worked very well.
It kind of all worked out, because it was a big weekend; a lot of people were here, and a lot of
people went to the opening. I think it was very successful. I like the building myself. Personally,
aesthetically I like it. I really like the way the galleries work. I think you go in that building and it is
a very [BREAK] It does establish an identity that is a lot different from campus, and that is one
reason some people do not like it. They like the brick and the collegiate Gothic and what the
campus is like over here on the east side. Then they go over there and see that building and think
[BREAK] about that cultural complex was that because it does not serve just the University; it is
really a community complex. It probably serves more people away from the University than really
who are ...
Well, it is the largest museum of its type in the Southeast.
[BREAK] complex is going to be something different. That is why we did not want it necessarily
identified as a University-type building, so we went with because of budget reasons, but
because of that we went with the DRIVET and stucco appearance. That is why the performing
arts building is that way, and that is why, I am sure, we will have [BREAK] important, because
that whole complex is for everyone. It is for [BREAK] itself is very, the design of it. I mean, it is
[BREAK] architect might tell you more about that. He had some ideas [BREAK] I think that the
skylight in the ...
In the basement?
No, in the changing-exhibit gallery. There is a skylight in there that is covered. The architect was
very insistent on putting a skylight [BREAK] I think, but, then again, when you need light you can
have it. So if there are exhibits that really need some natural lighting, it is available, rather than
not having any.
There were a number of things we did change in the building. [We] reduced rather the size of the
building for cost and energy efficiency. The original entrance to the building next to the museum,
the high [BREAK] the museum consultant told us it should be 1.5, it should be 1.23, or whatever.
What we did was SENSE containers ... Circulation is really internal [BREAK] figures in the
gross, so you add that extra square footage for circulation. I took [BREAK] space that really was
not in the program that we managed to [BREAK] not definable [BREAK]
That was probably why this project was so much fun. It was a lot different than most projects. It
was not as straightforward because of the budget problems and because of what we wanted to
achieve. We manipulated some things a little bit differently in terms of even doing that. I mean,
most projects you worry about [the budget]. The net-to-gross ratio is just something you [have to
deal with]. [BREAK] problems and all the site problems. They all kind of happened on this one
project, and in the end it ended up being a very nice project, which is the bottom line, I guess, in
what we look at in this office. I still do with my staff. [BREAK] that is important.