Gasson Quad Adopts New Look
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 01:09
After students left campus to go their myriad ways for the summer, construction teams geared up to work on several different parts of the campus. The most noticeable changes for students returning to the Heights this fall are the massive renovations to the Academic Quad in Middle Campus.
“The work started right after Commencement,” said Vice President of Facilities Management Daniel Bourque. “They moved trees, excavated sites, brought [the Quad] down to grade, and located the utilities.”
This work went on all summer and was the culmination of the campus landscaping renovations that began with the lawn in front of Stokes Hall and O’Neill Plaza.
“[The Quad renovations] serve as a connection between Stokes and O’Neill Plaza,” Bourque said. “It is a link to create a unified campus.”
As a part of the renovations, Bourque said that they removed trees that were “ill or diseased” and brought in new red oak and crab apple trees. They were able to save the linden tree in front of Lyons Hall.
In addition to the horticultural changes to the Quad, they also added granite sea walls and benches for students to use.
“We brought the same language of plantings, seating, and lighting to the Quad,” Bourque said. “It was important to have the campus architecture unified.”
“When we hired Sasaki & Associates, the nation’s foremost campus planner, they worked with us on the concept on planning a campus around linked quadrangles with pedestrian walkways that would enable free access from one end of the campus to the other,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn. “The improvements with pedestrian access from the middle campus past Stokes, through the Quad, through O’Neill Plaza, is reflective of that architectural principle. When we revise the Lower Campus in the coming years, that same principle of linked quadrangles, with green grass and trees, and access through pedestrian walkways, will continue to hold true.”
In addition to the work on the Quad, a number of other projects on campus were completed over the summer. The two-year renovation project on St. Mary’s continued on schedule, as well, and is still slated for completion in December of 2014.
Conte Forum was one of the buildings that received construction attention over the summer. Prior to this summer, Kelley Rink, the lobby, and the associated side rooms were not air-conditioned. Over the summer, air-conditioning and dehumidification equipment were added to the building.
“Before, we had to rent a dehumidifier for the hockey games to eliminate fogging during the hockey games,” Bourque said. “We put a new 400-ton chiller on the roof above the band storage. It won’t be cost-cutting, but will give us better operational control.”
Major changes were made in the teaching labs within the Merkert Chemistry Center. Last semester, several of the lab classes ended in April, so that the construction could be finished by the start of this semester. Bourque said that three teaching labs on the first floor for general and analytical chemistry were renovated. The labs were completely reconfigured to give better sight lines for teaching and add new fume hoods above all of the lab stations.
Work was also done on the first floor of McElroy Commons. The lobby area outside of the bookstore was renovated and new couches and lamps, as well as wood paneling, were installed. Vending machines formerly in this area were moved to stand next to the Women’s Resource Center.
Other, smaller projects were also undertaken over the summer. Fire sprinkler upgrades took place in Rubenstein Hall and one half of the Mods, with the other half to be upgraded next summer. Elevator upgrades took place in O’Neill Library and Gabelli Hall. The lounges in Williams Hall and Rubenstein Hall were also renovated. The roofing on the Shaw House, Duschesne Hall, and the former Alumni House was also repaired.
During the semester, Bourque said that work would be limited to non-disruptive back-end repairs and upgrades in the mechanical rooms. The facilities department is currently scoping out projects for Christmas break and next summer.