The once quiet hillside behind Reynolds Hall at Missouri Southern is now the site of a flurry of construction activity as the university embarks on its next major building project.

A new service road runs along the base of the hill, allowing access for the heavy equipment and workers who will build Nixon Hall, which will serve as the new home for the mathematics program at Missouri Southern.

Crossland Construction is overseeing construction of the 20,000-square-foot, three-story building, which will be located on the south side of Reynolds.

“They’re in the process of doing the site work, which includes cutting away the hillside and shoring it up to hold things in place while they do all the foundation work,” said Robert Harrington, director of the Physical Plant at Missouri Southern. “They’re getting ready to drill all the piers for the building.”

Designed by Paragon Architecture, the new building will be connected via a skywalk to the main hall of Reynolds’ second floor. It will house mathematics classrooms, faculty offices, a computer lab and student study areas.

“The design for the building will replicate a lot of what we saw in the recent renovations to the first and third floors of Reynolds,” said Harrington. “There will be an open atrium from the first to third floors and two different computer bars.

“The lighting in the areas in front of the offices will be in geometric figures, and the carpeting in the center of each classroom will have a mathematical design to it.”

He said that input from the mathematics faculty was sought from the very beginning of the project.

“We were involved through all phases of the design and development, including the interior finishes for the classrooms,” said Dr. Kerry Johnson, chair of the Mathematics Department. “Our choices focused on creating a comfortable learning environment for our students.”

The $8.1 million construction project is scheduled for completion in time for the start of the Spring 2019 semester, said Harrington.

Last fall, the university’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to name the new building for former Gov. Jay Nixon, citing his efforts to garner bipartisan support for the critical renovations needed in Reynolds Hall.