Irving Institute structural work concludes, other campus construction continues

by Ben Fagell | 10/26/20 2:05am

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by Caroline Kramer / The Dartmouth

On Oct. 13, construction workers completed the structural skeleton of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society. The milestone, marked by a virtual ceremony, comes as various other construction projects on campus continue smoothly.

Near the Irving Institute on the west end of campus, construction on the Center for Engineering and Computer Science is well underway. Modifications to the Dartmouth Outing Club house are also in progress. Maintenance on the Baker Library drainage system is nearly complete, as are renovations to Reed Hall. Renovations to Dartmouth Hall and Thornton Hall are both in early stages.

Even as the College struggles with layoffs, budget cuts and program eliminations, the projects, planned prior to the pandemic, are going ahead as planned.

The west end projects have remained mostly on track after a brief delay in July 2019, when the foundation for the Center for Engineering and Computer Science was excavated about 10 feet off from where it was intended to be.

Director of campus planning Joanna Whitcomb noted that currently, both the Irving Institute and the Center for Engineering and Computer Science projects are on schedule to be completed by next fall. Given the safety concerns with COVID-19, however, Whitcomb said she is hesitant to say with certainty that the projects will be finished on time.

Upon completion, the Institute will host expanded office space, contain a new cafe for students and faculty and house “a generous atrium space on the main level,” according to senior project manager James Pike. It will also be LEED platinum certified, according to Whitcomb.

Despite reaching the milestone, “there’s a lot to be done” before the scheduled fall 2021 completion date, Pike said. The construction team still has yet to frame walls, install mechanical electrical plumbing trades inside the building and add architectural finishes like carpet and tile.

Also a year away from completion, the Center for Engineering and Computer Science now boasts a finished structure for the parking garage. The construction team can begin “closing in the envelope,” which entails the creation of an air and moisture barrier for the inside, according to director of project management services Patrick O’Hern.

The restoration of the DOC house also is proceeding as planned, with completion slated for May of 2021. While the construction team is primarily working to revamp lighting, insulation systems and internal finishes, it is also addressing accessibility concerns, Whitcomb said.

“The facilities will be completely accessible,” she said. “If you're in a wheelchair or on crutches, you will be able to access all three stories without having to do stairs.”

In addition, construction on the Baker Library drainage system is set to be finished by the end of the month, which will allow students and faculty to once again enter through the front entrance and access the lawn in front of the building, Whitcomb said.

After seeing hints of water infiltration in the nearly-100-year-old foundation, O’Hern said he and his team decided to replace the waterproofing to protect the “priceless” Orozco murals on the bottom floor of the library.

On the east side of the Green, the renovation of three buildings — Reed Hall, Thornton Hall and Dartmouth Hall — are in various phases of completion.

Reed Hall is mostly complete and will be ready for the winter term, O’Hern said. Furniture and classroom technology have yet to be added, but the building now has a new sprinkler system, air-conditioning unit, elevator and a modern hot water heater.

O’Hern noted that the Reed Hall project has also gone relatively smoothly. COVID-19 travel restrictions for Vermont-based contractors in the spring did stall progress for about a month, since many of the subcontractors working on Reed Hall could no longer travel to the construction site.

Next door, Thornton Hall will undergo accessibility, infrastructure and classroom technology renovations beginning this upcoming January and continuing through the summer of 2021.

The religion and philosophy departments are scheduled to move out of Thornton Hall in December and will be relocated to a temporary office space.

Dartmouth Hall will experience similar modifications, assuming the construction plan is approved by the Board of Trustees in November. If given the green light, the construction team would be finished with the 18-month project by the fall of 2022. The exact start date is still being discussed, Whitcomb said.

“These projects take a really long time in terms of concept design, schematic design, design development [and] construction documents,” Whitcomb said. “... There's a lot of people, a lot of faculty who [work] in that building. And so we're trying to make sure that we have adequate offices for all.”

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