FEMA allocates $10.7M for permanent work at University of Puerto Rico
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved nearly $10.7 million to rebuild the Facundo Bueso Annex at the University of Puerto Rico for its campus in Río Piedras.
The structure was demolished in 2018 since it posed a threat to the health and safety of the university community as a result of damage from Hurricane María.
The new two-story structure will be strengthened with a steel frame and will have a reinforced foundation, in accordance with the most recent building codes and standards. In addition, the work includes upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires state and local governments to adhere to specific architectural standards related to accessibility for new construction work.
“The UPR is part of the educational legacy for our future generations. This obligation, like the other grants for various other campuses, helps to ensure that all students have access to first-rate facilities,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands José Baquero Tirado.
For more than 50 years, the Facundo Bueso Annex was part of the undergraduate faculty of Natural Sciences, whose annual enrollment was approximately 3,000 students. The former annex was home to the Tropical Institute of Environmental Sciences and the Office of Environmental Protection and Occupational Safety, as well as various laboratories where the effects of coastal erosion, among other subjects, were studied.
“The reconstruction of the Facundo Bueso Annex is planned in a new space outside the historic area where it was previously located. The purpose of this is to create a passive area with culinary offerings in keeping with the buildings of the historic square that houses it,” said the dean of Administration of the campus, Aurora Sotográs-Saldaña.
Since the onset of recovery work, the UPR was awarded nearly $272 million in federal grants for a total of 94 projects. Of these, more than $177.8 million is for permanent work in the following campuses: Aguadilla; Arecibo; Bayamón; Carolina; Cayey; Humacao; Mayagüez; Ponce; Río Piedras; Utuado; the Central Administration; the Medical Sciences campus; and the Botanical Garden.
Manuel A. Laboy, executive director of the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3, in Spanish), said “through this allocation of federal funds and the imminent construction of these projects by the UPR, which will be assisted by the COR3 team throughout this process, we strive to help university students forge their future in facilities that are safe and accessible.”