Reprinted with permission from The Republic newspaper, October 26, 2023

Female students from the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. C4 program recently got a peak behind the curtain at the work going on at NexusPark.

Students in architecture and construction pathways toured Columbus Regional Hospital’s portion of the site on Wednesday, as well as the fieldhouse and other spaces owned by the city of Columbus, said C4 team leader Autumne Streeval.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up almost 47% of the country’s overall workforce but only 11% of the construction workforce and 26% of architectural, engineering and related services.

“It is important for our nontraditional students to see themselves represented in their chosen career pathway,” Streeval said. “Nontraditional students are those whose gender is not equally represented in the industry, such as females in construction or architecture. Representation matters a lot and this event not only allowed students to see the stages of construction, but also see themselves in those roles in the future.”

Following the tour, students heard from a panel of female professionals who are involved with the NexusPark, including:

  • Casey Gibson, CRH manager of system construction services
  • Mary Ferdon, director of administration and community development for the City of Columbus
  • Pam Harrell, associate director of business services for the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department
  • Nikki Murphy, associate director of recreation for the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department
  • Katy Waddell, project manager for Turner Construction
  • Karen Walker, president of Force Design
  • Cathy Demmitt, principal architect for BSA Contractor

NexusPark is a joint effort between the city of Columbus and CRH to transform the former FairOaks Mall into a health, wellness and recreation center. The campus is expected to include parks department and community spaces, CRH facilities, restaurant and retail areas, and a fieldhouse.

Outdoor community park and gathering spaces also are planned, and Dunham’s is expected to remain on-site under its current lease.

A similar tour of the site was held this past January, with about 30 students from C4 construction and architecture/civil engineering classes visiting the property.