Campus Construction Update: April 5, 2011

Addition to Roger Williams Hall

A little more than a year after its beginning, the renovation of Hedge and Roger Williams halls is at its peak.

That’s speaking numerically, at least. The counts of both subcontracting firms and workers on site will top out during the next few weeks, according to project manager Paul Farnsworth. The number of “subs,” as construction folk call ’em, under lead contractor Wright-Ryan Construction will be up to 19 or so. And about 90 workers will be swinging hammers, slinging slate and stringing cables.

More specifically, the trades on site will include audiovisual technicians, carpenters, drywall hangers, electricians, flooring installers, glazers, HVAC technicians, masons, metalworkers, painters, plumbers, roofers, telecommunications experts and even the occasional writer-photographer.

At Hedge, we’re entering the home stretch. Site work around the building could begin this week, depending on muddiness. (On April 1, Maine enjoyed the company of yet another snowstorm.) On the structure itself, the focus is on the entryway onto Alumni Walk: The inner doors are in place, the outer doors soon to follow, and workers are finishing out the roof.

Staging at Roger Williams Hall

Also on that northern face of Hedge, sheet-metal workers are putting the charcoal-gray Continental Bronze pre-weathered siding on the dormers.

Elsewhere at Hedge, the roof of the turret facing the historic Quad still wants its slate topping. But that will wait, as the big push for the roofers now is Roger Bill.

Inside Hedge, the news is about water. With the plumbing having passed an air-pressure test and gotten the city’s seal of approval, and with such fixtures as sinks and drinking fountains being hung, municipal water is now flowing in the pipes. And speaking of currents, the electricians are now installing outlets, light fixtures and switches, and similar terminal fittings.

Manlift at Hedge Hall

Flooring starts going down this week, starting with the second story, Farnsworth says: vinyl faux-hardwood planking in offices and carpeting in common areas.

Meanwhile, the check marks multiply on the list of interior chores completed. Wallboard, check; ceramic tiles in bathrooms and custodial closets, check; and so on.

At Roger Williams Hall, progress has been striking. The glass on the stair tower facing the Library Quad looks very nice, and glazers are now moving apace on the Alumni Walk side, with frames all in place and the glass set to install as soon as we get clear of the snowstorm.

Roger Williams Hall stairtower

The new bricks on the office wing are likewise handsome, blending well with the original building walls. Completed are the side facing Garcelon and part of the Alumni Gym side. Workers are erecting staging so they can finish off the wing.

Inside the Bill, says Farnsworth, “they are framing the fourth floor walls, and I can’t imagine that’s not going to be complete this week.” Wall framing within the office wing is under way as well.

Manlift at Hedge Hall

Wallboard is more or less complete on the ground, first and second floors. But the drywall hangers are now focusing on certain types of areas to make way for other trades. “For instance, in the bathrooms there’s a big push to get the wallboard up and finished so the tile guys can move through on all floors at once,” instead of making multiple visits, Farnsworth explains.

Like the decision to postpone finishing the Hedge turret roof so as to concentrate on the Bill, this tactic is a manifestation of the “critical path” concept, the sequencing of construction tasks that will get you to the end of a project most efficiently.

Finally, in the realm of exciting features that we will never get to see, this week walls will go up around a large vertical shaft, running more or less through the building’s core, that contains all manner of services — pipes that feed sprinklers and heating-cooling units, and ducts for HVAC and the stove exhaust hood in the ground-floor “cultural kitchen.”

Speaking of the kitchen, Farnsworth mentions that he met with Dining Services director Christine Schwartz about equipping the kitchen with flatware, dishes and so on — “the typical stuff you need in a kitchen. She and her staff came up with a list.”

Another reminder that the project is really cooking.

Can we talk? Campus Construction Update welcomes your questions, reminiscences and comments about campus improvements. Please e-mail Doug Hubley, stating “Construction Update” in the subject line.

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