Beta Theta Pi fraternity building high-tech, multi-use house

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 | 3:35 p.m. CDT; updated 5:50 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Steel beams form the beginning structures of the upper floors Wednesday in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, located on 520 S. College Ave. Steel workers will continue putting the beams across the cement floor to the other stairwell to complete the initial structure. Counting the basement, the fraternity house will have 4 floors. The crew plans to have the exterior finished by the end of the year, enabling them to move inside and work. As of now they are on schedule for the intended move-in date of August 2012.

COLUMBIA — The foundation has been laid, a steel frame assembled and interior work is scheduled to begin before snow falls on the new Beta Theta Pi fraternity house at MU. 

The fraternity anticipates that the $9 million, three-story house at 520 S. College Ave. will be the most technologically advanced Greek house on campus when it is completed next year.

It will hold a 100-seat auditorium, sports courts, dormitory rooms with private bathrooms on the second and third floors, and a dining hall that also serves as a great room, said Steven Glynias, Beta Theta Pi president. 

The previous house was built in 1959, and maintenance concerns prompted alumni and active members to rebuild.

Bill Toalson, a Beta Theta Pi alumnus and on-site coordinator for the fraternity, said construction crews have made substantial progress on the new house since ground was broken last summer.

"They've poured concrete, put up steel and hopefully before winter, we'll be under roof and work on the interior can begin," Toalson said.

While construction is under way, the current pledge class and seven officers are living in the former Delta Sigma Phi house at 600 E. Rollins. Most of the remaining active members reside at The Cottages, an apartment complex in the south part of Columbia. 

Peter Leicht, fraternity rush chairman, said members can view a live feed from the construction site and watch the house go up as the crew works.

To date, the fraternity has raised more than $8 million in donations and is looking to secure another $2 million to complete the construction.

"We are trying to get the word out there to over 3,100 alumni by publicizing through newsletters and the Beta website," Glynias said.

He said all contributions have come from chapter alumni.

"We are fortunate and lucky to have the amount of alumni to contribute thousands and millions of dollars, even though we don't personally know many or all of them," Leicht said. "But we all have our brotherhood in common."

To protect the new house and provide a safe facility for members, Glynias said the fraternity members have been considering state-of-the-art security technology.

He said a standard punch code system for entry can create a false sense of security. Issues occur when the code spreads to girlfriends, other friends and sometimes friends of friends, he said.

To update the system, Glynias said the members have looked into the possibility of installing fingerprint ID scanners.

Leicht agreed the fingerprint entry would ensure visitors could not enter unless accompanied by a member.

"There are issues with nonfraternity members coming into the house," Leicht said. "That poses a lot of risks, so we're trying to keep that down."

Glynias said they have also considered swipe cards, such as student IDs, for entry into the house. A final decision has not been made.

"We have looked around other campuses for ideas," he said.

"We want something that will stand the test of time and be able to compete with the dorms and other fraternities on our campus."

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Corey Parks October 19, 2011 | 10:36 p.m.


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