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Campus Construction Update: Week of April 19, 2010

Writing this on Earth Day, Campus Construction Update is pleased to note that the Hedge and Roger Williams renovation project is showing some green.

As workers yank off Hedge’s roof in the coming weeks, the sturdy old planks that form the roof decking have been spoken for by a company that will repurpose them. “It was someone who came through and saw them way back,” says project manager Paul Farnsworth.

The windows that are fast disappearing, giving poor old Hedge a gap-toothed look, have also been claimed for reuse, though by a different company.

That’s not all. “The wooden beams that serve as roof joists, we’re reusing on site,” Farnsworth says. “There’s also some steel structure that we’re going to use in the basement for shoring,” although these parts will ultimately be scrapped.

Roof work isn’t all that’s up at Hedge. Work is afoot in the basement too. In fact, “things are really going to start picking up” in the next few weeks, Farnsworth says. “It’s exciting.”

The stage is set to put a new supporting wall underneath the existing foundation and to install footers for a steel frame that will hold Hedge up. This is work that we described in this space two weeks ago, but there was a little chore that we neglected to mention.

Built in 1890, Hedge got an addition in 1926, and the basement floor of the new section was lower than the original. So the past couple of weeks, workers have been mining out a mess of concrete to make a single level from the split-level floor.

Outside, workers will apply “shotcrete” — essentially, concrete sprayed on with a hose — on the foundation to make a flat surface for the application of damp-proofing.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed that the dormer on the Pettengill side of the building has a big hole in it. That’s the beginning of the end for the dormer, which will be completely removed in the coming weeks.

And speaking of big holes, there will soon be a doozy on that same side of the building. The basement doorway that was widened a while ago to admit machinery will be expanded again — all the way up the side of the building. That opening is a major connection to the new addition and stair tower, signature features of the renovation.

At Roger Bill, too, a basement doorway has been embiggened so that the kind of Bobcat that has wheels and an engine can get in where the biped variety used to roam. Some concrete will be cut out to make way for footers to support a new steel skeleton, but nothing on the scale of the Hedge work.

Upstairs, the gutting continues. Most of the metal stuff such as heating ducts and piping is out, and “you’ll see a lot more wood coming out as they strip the floors down to the subflooring,” says Farnsworth.

That wood is recycled, too, but not for anything decorative that you might later admire in House Beautiful. You can’t get it out without breaking it up, says Farnsworth, so it’s ground up by a company for other uses.

Notes from underground: Faucets ran dry for a small part of the campus on April 22 thanks to work at Hedge. The building’s water shutoff valve was located in the footprint of the forthcoming addition, necessitating its relocation, which meant turning off the H20 for Dana, Pettengill and Lane halls. That was squared away by noon.

And the tidy slit trench running through the parking lot behind Alumni Gym should be all healed up by the weekend of April 24. That trench was cut to reroute the main fiber optic line that connects Merrill Gym and its companion buildings to the campus computer network. The line formerly ran under the lawn behind Roger Bill, right where the addition will be built.

Can we talk? Campus Construction Update welcomes your questions and comments, unless they’re mean, about the Hedge-Roger Williams renovation project. Please e-mail staff writer Doug Hubley at this E-mail, stating “Construction Update” in the subject line.



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