Freshmen lucky enough to move into the newly constructed Court and Mews residence halls on North Campus next year will find transitioning to campus life a little easier.
Amenities for the dormitories include air-conditioners and a fireplace lounge in the new community center, the Community Commons.
“We’re still looking for our August opening for the Class of 2005,” said Jean Reese, project leader for the program aspect of the North Campus Residential Initiative, noting that the contractor is slated to complete construction in late July 2001. This will enable all freshmen to move to North Campus in the fall.
“We are in the heart of construction right now,” Reese said. “We’re just about half way there — a little past the half way point.”
Construction continues moving forward on schedule. The biggest scheduling problem so far has been a shortage of masons to install the brick and stone building facades, according to Reese.
The construction window for the project is 16 months, and about nine months have passed since the first shovel of dirt was unearthed last March on the former Helen Newman Field.
Throughout the fall semester, construction crews made considerable progress.
“The interior framing of the rooms is largely complete. The windows are in the process of being installed. We’re completing enclosing the buildings so work can continue on through wintertime,” Reese said.
Masons will adorn the two new residence halls and the Community Commons buildings with stone and brick as weather permits. For now, temporary plastic enclosures protect masons from the elements as they work on the structures.
“When the weather turns cold, you move your forces from outside to inside,” said John Keifer, project leader of facilities for the Residential Initiative.
Construction workers are currently painting and mounting tiles in the bathrooms of the southern section of Court Residence Hall, the side closest to Balch Hall. In Mews Hall, however, the interior framing is still being erected.
The Community Commons is also continuing on schedule, according to Reese.
The exterior is 90 percent complete, and masons are beginning to cover the east side with brick. All three floor levels are in, and workers are starting to install partitions. Construction of the serving stations in the marketplace-style dining hall should begin in the next month, Keifer said.
The construction is not limited to buildings. Three new recreation fields were seeded in early September, but they will not be ready for use until fall 2001.
“They need a few seasons of rest before they can be used,” Reese said.
Tennis and basketball courts will also be completed in summer 2001.
Final renovations to two existing structures on North Campus were also finished this semester. The Just About Music (JAM) program house, which moved from the Class of ’26 Hall on West campus to Low Rise Nine on North campus is complete, except for the installation of some mountable speakers, which should be completed soon, according to Matthew Soghor, residence hall director for JAM.
“We’re enjoying the space and putting it to use,” Soghor said, noting several successful concerts that students and locals have already performed in the new space.
“It’s a better space,” Soghor said. “It’s a step up — a couple steps up.”
The extensive renovations to Anna Comstock Hall, new home of the Latino Living Center, are also complete.
The ongoing construction projects have inconvenienced students in various ways throughout the semester.
“[The buildings] look fine, but [construction crews] wake me up every morning,” said Donlon resident Kaj Hackinen ’04. He complained that when the bulldozers drive in reverse, the beeping sound they make sounds like his alarm.
Ewa Lis ’02, who lives in Low Rise Eight, said construction is not as noisy as it used to be, but complained about the temporary closure of the pathway alongside Balch Hall that leads to Helen Newman Hall.
“You can’t take the shortcut anymore. So that was very annoying,” Lis said.
Keifer said the path was closed for about three weeks when crews were putting a steam line in the ground. He said that a sign warning about the closed walkway was moved farther down South Balch Drive to help exasperated students. The path has since been reopened.
“We don’t have any plans to close that off again,” Keifer said.
Archived article by Heather Schroeder