Construction update: West End may encounter additional delays, East Wheelock cluster to begin renovations next summer

The renovations on Dartmouth Hall are expected to conclude by the fall of 2022.

by Pierce Wilson | 10/12/21 5:05am

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by Maddie Doerr / The Dartmouth Staff

While certain construction projects — such as Thornton Hall and the renovations on the Dartmouth Outing Club House — have progressed smoothly and become operational, labor and supply chain issues are causing delays in many projects around campus, including Dartmouth Hall, the Irving Institute for Energy and Society and the Center for Engineering and Computer Science. Additionally, the Board of Trustees recently voted to approve renovations to the East Wheelock cluster, which is expected to begin in the summer of 2022. 

Located at the campus West End, the Irving Institute and the CECS were scheduled to be operational by the end of the fall term, but are now scheduled to be completed by the end of the year due to labor and supply chain shortages. However, project management services director Patrick O’Hern said that his team is skeptical as to whether or not contractors will complete the construction by the end of 2021 — noting that there is still “a lot to be done” before either building is ready for use. 

Establishing life safety systems is the “next milestone” for both projects once construction is done, according to O’Hern. He added that even after the contractors finish the buildings, there remains work to be done on the College’s behalf, such as creating an information and technology network, setting up audiovisual equipment and ensuring that classrooms and lab spaces are safe to use. 

O’Hern noted that both buildings are “gorgeous” and that he believes people are going to be impressed with the atriums and public spaces. 

Additionally, the Board of Trustees recently voted for the department of project management services to begin preparing paperwork for the renovations to the East Wheelock dorm cluster, according to O’Hern. He added that renovations to Andres Hall, Zimmerman Hall and the Brace Commons will make similar improvements — in heating and cooling, life safety and accessibility — to the renovations on Morton Hall after a devastating fire in 2016. Construction on Andres Hall is anticipated to begin the summer of 2022 and be completed by the end of summer of 2023. Zimmerman Hall and Brace Commons will undergo renovations once Andres Hall’s construction is complete. 

O’Hern said that Thornton Hall renovations were completed this summer and classes in several departments, including classics, Arabic and music, have been held in the building this fall. He added that students and faculty have appreciated the new air conditioning as well as the improved temperature controls and lighting. 

Philosophy department faculty administrator Ryan Kasianchuk said that he appreciates the renovations to Thornton Hall.

“All the thermostats, the HVAC, all that’s been updated — and the lighting too, so it’s been an easier office space in general,” Kasianchuk said.

Kasianchuk added that new projectors, lightning and other classroom technologies have made classrooms more accessible and interactive for students and professors alike. 

Similarly, according to O’Hern, renovations to the Dartmouth Outing Club House were completed this summer, and the space is now available for conferences and events.  

O’Hern said that since Snøhetta — the architecture firm leading the expansion of the Hopkins Center — had completed preliminary schematics for the renovations at the end of the summer, project manager Chad Morig is in the process of obtaining “necessary approvals” from the College and the Board of Trustees. O’Hern said that he and Morig are planning for the next trustee vote in November and that the completion of the next phase of design documents, pending approval from the trustees, will take four to five months. 

Hanover planning, zoning and codes director Rob Houseman said that his department works alongside the College “from the conceptual stage to the permitting stage” on each construction project and that they have already met with the College to review the conceptual designs of the renovations to the Hopkins Center. He added that on large scale projects like the renovations to Dartmouth Hall, the Center for Engineering and Computer Science and the Irving Institute, his department continues to be in touch with the College on a weekly basis.

O’Hern said that renovations to Dartmouth Hall are planned to be completed by the fall of 2022 and that the building will be ready for occupancy by then. 

Houseman said that his department has been working with the College to ensure that renovations to Dartmouth Hall don’t “impact College Street in a negative way,” noting that College Street is a “critical transportation corridor.” He added that when construction projects are completed, his department and the fire department will work with the College to complete inspections and issue certificates of occupancy.

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