Work in Progress: Campus Upgrades
Issue   |   Wed, 09/28/2011 - 02:09

The revving of an engine, the crunching of concrete as it is crushed echo throughout the quads as the Facilities department pursue their list of repairs and improvements around campus. Now that renovations in Valentine Dining Hall have been completed, the Facilities department has turned to other projects ranging from the small fix-ups around campus to extensive renovations.

“In general, we have a stewardship perspective on campus,” said Jim Brassord, Director of Facilities and Associate Treasurer for Campus Services. “We feel that we need to ensure [that] buildings meet their intended purpose by maintaining and enhancing them with renovations and repairs.”

The Facilities department is currently working on renovations in Frost Library, which should have important implications for the student body.

“We are upgrading some of interior finishes and there are plans for a café. That is in design right now and not at the point that we can predict when construction will start, but we are hoping it will be done sometime this academic year,” Brassord said.

The installment of a café has both students and staff excited.

“I’ll probably come [to the library] a lot more,” Miandra Ellis ’14 said. “I already work here so I will probably go [to the café] all the time.”

“I think it’s really good. It is a very positive thing that will raise the profile of the Library on campus,” said Bilal Muhammad ’98, the evening circulation specialist.

While this is a major renovation process, the department is also undertaking other minor projects around campus, including the removal of steps in the Valentine quad.

“[The stairs] were at the end of their design life, and it became more costly to repair them than to replace them,” Brassord said. “We are replacing the bluestone steps with granite, which will be more durable.”

Brassord also noted that replacing the steps with flat pavement would have added benefit of “making the quad more navigable for handicap individuals.”

Other minor projects include the construction of steps at the Cadigan Center of Religious Life, work at the Davenport Squash Courts and improvements to the entrance of the parking lot at Newport House.

“All these minor projects are proceeding apace […] we try to schedule the majority of projects for summer months to keep the inconvenience of students at a minimum,” Brassord said. “We are not anticipating any major inconvenience for campus.”

The department is also continuing work on one of its long-term projects, the renovations of the Lord Jeffery Inn, which has now been under construction for about 14 months.

“It is a comprehensive renovation of the inn. It was built in the 20’s, but this is the College’s first major reinvestment in that property. We are upgrading and enhancing entire inn,” Brassord said. “There will be all new building systems, code enhancements and aesthetic enhancements.”

These new building systems range from waterlines to electrical distribution to heating and plumbing systems to fire alarm and sprinkler systems. Additionally, the inn will include banquet and conference faculties, as well as a new American-bistro style restaurant called 30 Boltwood. Furthermore, the project incorporates a large amount of sustainable design including geothermal wells for the heating and cooling of the building.

“We hope this sustainable design will be recognized through Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. If it is approved, it would be one of the few hospitality services that are LEED certified,” Brassord said.
It is expected that the project will be completed sometime in December.

The other major project in the works is the new science center, which is still in the early planning and design phase. The week of Oct. 3, the architect of the science center will be visiting campus and will participate in an open meeting so that the public can get information on that project.

Most of the projects are initiated once facilities leadership perform preliminary assessments of buildings and grounds and implement projects based on their findings. Staff, faculty and students, however, are also welcomed to propose their own projects through the Association of Amherst Students, residential life counselors, academic departments or direct proposals.