College completes Reed Hall and Baker-Berry construction, Dartmouth Hall renovations to begin

by Manasi Singh | 1/14/21 2:05am

by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Though the pandemic marches on, Dartmouth has moved forward with multiple construction projects, including the completion of renovations to Reed Hall and Baker-Berry Library, the start of renovations on Dartmouth Hall and the continued construction of the new Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society.

“Last spring, when the pandemic hit, there were some projects that were put on hold out of initial care and concern for what budget effects that might have,” director of project management services Patrick O’Hern said, adding that after considering budgetary limitations and pandemic safety measures, projects resumed.

Renovations to Reed Hall and maintenance on Baker-Berry are both now complete, according to vice president of campus services and institutional projects Josh Keniston. Construction continues on the Irving Institute, which saw its structure completed in the fall, and the Center for Engineering and Computer Science. Both buildings are expected to be completed by the end of summer. Renovations to the Dartmouth Outing Club House — expected to be completed in May — and Thornton Hall — expected to be completed in August — are progressing as well.

Construction will commence this month on Dartmouth Hall and is expected to continue for 18 months, according to Keniston. The renovations will include classroom technology updates, heating infrastructure, new landscaping and regrading of the land in front of the building. 

“Right now, all of the paths that go from the Green up to Dartmouth Row are not handicap-accessible,” Keniston said. “That project is actually going to put in a new path that is of a more gradual grade, that's going to help make that more accessible.”

Hanover director of planning, zoning and codes Robert Houseman noted that the town and the College have continued to work together to ensure that the construction sites do not disrupt access for students or for community members.

“The example is Dartmouth Hall and the adjacent buildings that are under renovation right now,” Houseman said. “There's a dormitory behind them … and that stream of the pedestrian corridor and the [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessible corridor needs to be maintained. So we look at how we address that.”

Houseman said that the College’s projects go through the same approval process as other construction projects in Hanover, meant to ensure public safety and convenience throughout the months of construction. 

One construction project was canceled over the winter break, though for reasons unrelated to the pandemic. The College’s biomass plant project — which would have shifted the College away from nonrenewable No. 6 fuel oil — was initially planned as part of the College’s large scale Green Energy Project, which also includes retrofits of certain campus buildings and a switch from a steam heating system to a hot water heating system. 

Upon announcing the biomass project, the College faced criticism from scientists, faculty, students and residents. Keniston explained that after reevaluating the project, the College decided in December to cancel the biomass project and focus instead on the other two components of the project. 

“Rather than an approach that says we're going to take all of our No. 6 fuel oil and replace it with biomass, we're going to, over time, take all that No. 6 fuel and replace 20% with solar or 30% with geothermal or whatever it may be,” Keniston said.

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