Barton Hall will be closed for the remainder of the fall semester as a team renovates the building’s floors and equipment, according to Associate Project Manager Chris Davenport.
A project team is improving the building’s track floor and athletic equipment, as well as the foundation of the Navy ROTC blockhouse. Davenport said the renovations — which began June 20 and will finish by 2017 — will cost a total of $3.6 million.
The project’s main goal is to fix Barton’s floor, according to Davenport. “The wood flooring underneath the track was deteriorating and causing soft spots, which made it unsafe for recreational use and unsafe for collegiate competition,” he said.
Davenport also said multiple parts of the floor have been worked on over the past four or five years, but officials eventually decided that the entire floor needed to be redone. So far, the construction team has removed the material under the floor all the way to the ground, put in a new base and created a new concrete floor, which was completed Thursday.
New athletic equipment, including basketball hoops and sandboxes, will be installed over the course of September, according to Davenport. In October, work will begin on the indoor track surface, which will not be finished until December.
“The new floor, the new painting, the lines — everything is going to look beautiful,” Davenport said. “It’ll be an attraction for students [and] events.”
Effect on Student Activities
Barton’s closure will and has affected many student organizations and activities at Cornell as groups plan around the loss of the biggest event venue on campus. Clubfest, which is traditionally held in Barton, will take place in Bartels Hall and two “satellite” locations — RPCC and the Tatkon Center — on Sep. 11, according to Assistant Director for Community Center Programs Denice Cassaro.
Bartels will house around 290 organizations, while the Tatkon and RPCC will take in 30 and 50, respectively.
“Barton was an easy setup because it was a large space,” Cassaro said. “So what it’s done is given us an opportunity to be creative and to think a little bit out of the box, and it changes things up a little bit.”
Splitting up Clubfest in multiple locations will allow more groups to participate, Cassaro said, adding that spots at the event typically fill up quickly.
“The goal is to have participation of as many student groups as possible,” she said. “It gives us an opportunity to see how will it work to have two spots on North … and if it goes well, it might just simply be incorporated.”
However, students may have difficulties visiting all of the organizations in this new configuration, Cassaro said.
ROTC Changes Training Plans
Army ROTC — which, along with Cornell’s other ROTC units, uses Barton for training and learning — has changed its curriculum for the year to accommodate the construction, according to Prof. David Barber, military science.
“A lot of the second semester events are outdoor activities and a lot of the first semester events are indoor activities,” Barber said. “Because we’re going to take advantage of the weather, we said, ‘Why don’t we just flip them around?’”
New activities that will occur this fall include drill ceremony and marching, while the spring will focus on indoor events like military history and critical thinking.
A more outdoors focus this semester will necessitate that AROTC trains in inclement weather conditions.
“For physical training in the morning, it was 50 degrees this morning,” said (Ret.) Maj. Kevin Swab, an AROTC officer. “It was kind of chilly. Normally we’d meet in Barton Hall for physically training. Now we’re meeting up at the track.”
Despite the current inconveniences, AROTC members said the construction team is making much-needed improvements to Barton.
“The air circulation in Barton was never very good,” said Daniel Jacobson ’18. “It got really hot, so hopefully they did something to improve that.”
Navy ROTC has also had to make changes — administrative offices, classrooms and locker room are currently located in Martha Van Rensselaer Hall due to renovations on Barton’s Navy blockhouse — according to Prof. Patrick Blankenship, naval science.
Blankenship added that NROTC will also be unable to host the Cornell University Invitational Drill Competition — an annual drill competition open to NROTC units across the country — this November. The event will either be rescheduled for the spring or cancelled, according to Blankenship.
“West Point comes, Naval Academy comes, in addition to just ROTC programs,” Blankenship said of the drill competition. “It usually ends up being pretty big. The money that’s made off of that goes into a student activity fund.”
Track and Field Relocates Across Town
Although Barton’s new track will be certified for NCAA competition, Cornell track and field currently needs to use different venues for training, according to women’s head coach Richard Bowman. The team has been using weight apparatuses in the Friedman Center, on the first floor of Bartels Hall, because their weight rooms are inside Barton, Bowman said.
So far, team members have been able to exercise outside, but Bowman plans to use facilities at Ithaca College once the weather gets colder.
“It’s one of those things where we might have to take two steps behind to go four steps forward,” he said. “We feel like it’s going to be a absolutely beautiful facility when we get it done, and it’s worth the cost and time right now.”
Career Fair Complaints
Other aspects of student life — most notably the Career Fair, which ran its first segment from Tuesday to Thursday this week — have been affected by the construction as well. The fair, typically in Barton, was relocated to Statler Hall, The Sun previously reported.
“We looked into some other opportunities and there were no other facilities that were anywhere near big enough that were available,” said Rebecca Sparrow, Cornell Career Services executive director. “The Statler was only able to host the fair [for] four days, spread out through this week and next week.”
Due to the new venue’s space constraints, students were forced to wait for hours in long lines to enter the building.
“I do think that Statler is a good location for various career-related events, but obviously it doesn’t have the capacity to hold both full time and intern positions for prospective employers,” Kristin Zak ’18 said. “I would say they definitely could have managed things better.”
Zak suggested that the event could have been split up by full-time positions and internships, or by different industries.
Several students waited outside for multiple hours in hopes of speaking to potential employers.
“I was there last year at Barton Hall and it was much better,” said Sahil Kanjiyani ’18, who waited four hours to enter. “You got in in 20 minutes and you got to freely roam and see all the companies in one day.”
While Barton is home to many student activities during the semester, it also houses final exams that will need to be moved to other locations, according to a representative from the office of the registrar.
“Currently, the plan is to accommodate exams that would typically be held in Barton in other spaces on campus,” the representative said. “The loss of Barton may result in an increase in the number of exams assigned to multiple rooms.”