Even though Campus Construction Update continues to scour garage sales for carbon paper and reel-to-reel audiotape, we still know progress when we see it.

Take cross-laminated timber, a material that’s key to a signature feature of the current Chase Hall makeover. Used in Europe for decades, CLT is “gaining quite a bit of popularity in the U.S for multiple reasons,” says Kristi Mynhier, Bates project manager for the Chase renovation.

CLT has a couple of functions in the so-called central stair, which incorporates an elevator and walkways as well as stairs. As we’ve reported, this feature near the Office of Intercultural Education suite will simplify wayfinding in Chase, providing a sort of three-dimensional traffic circle linking several common destinations.

Taken over the guardrail near the edge of a three-story drop, here's a Jan. 11 view of structural steel in the site of the central stair. The wooden verticals will be part of the elevator shaft. The renovation will leave the steel and brick visible, albeit prettied up. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)
Taken above the guardrail protecting the edge of a drop-off, here’s a Jan. 11 view of structural steel in the site of the central stair. The wooden verticals — actually cross-laminated timber — will be part of the elevator shaft. The Chase Hall renovation will leave the steel and brick visible, albeit prettied up. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

CLT itself consists of wooden layers, called lamellas, that have been kiln-dried and glued together under pressure with their grains at right angles (ergo “cross-laminated”).

According to the architecture website Arch2O, CLT is impressively virtuous. It’s strong, structurally stable, and quite sustainable. As a wood product, CLT sequesters atmospheric carbon. It requires much less energy to produce than traditional structural materials — specifically, half the energy of making concrete and about 1 percent of smelting steel.

“You see its increased popularity as far as environmental impact,” Mynhier adds, but “it’s also wonderful when it comes to installation speed.” Because CLT can be cut and drilled to order at the factory, installation at the construction site is just a matter of bolting it into place.

“So it costs a little bit more” up front, she says, “but it takes way less time to install than an all-steel structure or metal decking that has to be filled with concrete, which needs time to cure” before any subsequent work can begin.

This view over the fence enclosing the Chase Hall construction site shows the Campus Avenue entrance near the Kenison Gate. The tarps cover concrete retaining walls and seating. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

This view over the fence enclosing the Chase Hall construction site shows the Campus Avenue entrance near the Kenison Gate. The tarps cover concrete retaining walls and seating. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

And here's a look upward inside that same Chase entrance near the Kenison Gate. Shown are two of the three levels of the original Chase Hall. The top opening leads to the lobby for Skelton and Hirasawa lounges. One level down is the Purposeful Work suite. At bottom outside the image frame, the main building entrance will be reconfigured. The new gray steel framework by the doorways will support floor extensions into this former stairwell. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

And here’s a look upward inside that same Chase entrance near the Kenison Gate. Shown are two of the three levels of the original Chase Hall. The top opening leads to the lobby for Skelton and Hirasawa lounges. One level down is the Purposeful Work suite. At bottom outside the image frame, the main building entrance will be reconfigured. The new gray steel framework by the doorways will support floor extensions into this former stairwell. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Wooden guardrails mark where, in the Purposeful Work suite, the first floor will extend into the Campus Avenue entrance that will serve as a kind of atrium, with a similar arrangement on the second floor. Glass walls will admit daylight. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Wooden guardrails mark where, in the Purposeful Work suite, the first floor will extend into the Campus Avenue entrance that will serve as a kind of atrium, with a similar arrangement on the second floor. Glass walls will admit daylight. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Once a storage area for Dining Services, more recently the campus Package Center, this ground-floor space in Chase will soon house Residence Life offices. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Once a storage area for Dining Services, more recently the campus Package Center, this ground-floor space in Chase will soon house Residence Life offices. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Wood and insulation cover four new window openings in a ground-floor area of Chase Hall that has served as the campus Package Center and before that, storage and a laundry facility for Dining Services. Residential Life staffers whose offices will be built here can expect gorgeous views of the Library Quad. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Wood and insulation cover four new window openings in a ground-floor area of Chase Hall that has served as the campus Package Center and before that, storage and a laundry facility for Dining Services. Residential Life staffers whose offices will be built here can expect gorgeous views of the Library Quad. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Closed during the Chase Hall renovation, the Bobcat Den sits patiently awaiting its reopening at the start of the next school year. New Residential Life offices will be built just a few steps away. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Closed during the Chase Hall renovation, the Bobcat Den sits patiently awaiting its reopening at the start of the next school year. New Residential Life offices will be built just a few steps away. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

“You get the CLT decking in place and you can immediately put lifts on it and get people working above.”

In Chase, CLT panels will serve as floor decking for central stair landings and walkways linking flights of steps. In addition, CLT beams will help support the new elevator. Disdero Lumber Co. of Clackamas, Ore., manufactures the Lock-Deck brand CLT that Bates is using.

The stair treads themselves, though, will be natural oak. And placement of all those components is imminent.

But when we toured Chase on Jan. 11, the central-stair action was focused, instead, on the brick walls that surround it. After spending decades concealed behind wallboard, these are being smoothed and stripped of dust, paint, and other accumulated residues.

This new stairway connecting Chase Hall’s first-floor lobby with the second story is being Insulated. The Rockwool insulation provides both fire protection and acoustic damping. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)
This new stairway connecting Chase Hall’s first-floor lobby with the second story is being insulated. The Rockwool insulation provides both fire protection and acoustic damping. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

That’s because the brick walls will be left exposed when the renovation is done (reminding us of the fern bars in our distant youth). Moreover, much of the new structural steel that holds up the central stair will also remain in view. Now gray, its final color will be black. Stylish!

Be bop a LULA: Speaking of the new central-stair elevator (even though it won’t be installed for a while), it too can claim distinctiveness. We wouldn’t call it a lulu, but that’s only because it’s a “LULA”: a limited-use, limited-application elevator.

Such elevators are especially well-suited for installation in existing structures. They are relatively small and limited by building codes to no more than 25 feet of vertical travel. Moreover, a LULA needs less clearance at the top of its shaft and a shallower pit at its base than a conventional lift, simplifying construction, and will be less expensive to both build and operate.

Meanwhile, during last week’s tour, as we gazed at the new gray structural steel and pondered all this rampant futurity, a mason to our left was accomplishing something more useful: mixing mortar so he could get on with building a concrete-block wall. That wall forming one side of a new meeting room will also incorporate a glass door and sidelight, opening new sightlines and dispelling ghosts of the old blank corridors in this section of Chase that comprises additions, in 1950 and ’78, to the original building.

At work in a future Chase Hall meeting room, a mason mixes mortar for a new section of concrete-block wall. Behind him, men are working in what will become the Musicians Union studio. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

At work in a future Chase Hall meeting room, a mason mixes mortar for a new section of concrete-block wall. Behind him, men are working in what will become the Musicians Union studio. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Although there has always been a doorway in this opening at the far end of Chase Lounge, the brick arch was concealed behind wallboard for decades. Like several other architectural treats original to Chase Hall, the arch will be left exposed by the current renovation. Note the pale new brick. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Although there has always been a doorway in this opening at the far end of Chase Lounge, the brick arch was concealed behind wallboard for decades. Like several other architectural treats original to Chase Hall, the arch will be left exposed by the current renovation. Note the pale new brick. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

A technician pulls data cables into new Student Affairs offices on the ground floor of Chase Hall. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

A technician pulls data cables into new Student Affairs offices on the ground floor of Chase Hall. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Covered by tarps in the long-ago site of the College Store is a stockpile of panels for the floor decking in and around the central stair. The panels are made of cross-laminated timber, aka CLT, something of a wonder product in the construction world. Complete with the original fireplace, behind the tarps, this space will be a meeting room. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Covered by tarps in the long-ago site of the College Store is a stockpile of panels for the floor decking in and around the central stair. The panels are made of cross-laminated timber, aka CLT, something of a wonder product in the construction world. Complete with the original fireplace, behind the tarps, this space will be a meeting room. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

New joists and floorboards are mated to a new ledger board and masonry in this decking above Chase Hall Lounge. A large section of the old floor was replaced because of moisture damage. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

New joists and floorboards are mated to a new ledger board and masonry in this decking above Chase Hall Lounge. A large section of the old floor was replaced because of moisture damage. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Here's a close view of the new joists, ledger board, and rebuilt masonry used to replace a patch of water-damaged floor decking above Chase Hall Lounge. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Here’s a close view of the new joists, ledger board, and rebuilt masonry used to replace a patch of water-damaged floor decking above Chase Hall Lounge. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

The Chase Hall construction site with Campus Avenue in the foreground on a chilly January morning. The first-floor windows at center show the approximate site of the floor repair in the previous images. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

The Chase Hall construction site with Campus Avenue in the foreground on a chilly January morning. The first-floor windows at center show the approximate site of the floor repair in the previous images. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Past the mason, workers in other trades were up to something, maybe rough-ins, in a different space, the future Bates Musicians Union studio. Behind us, a new set of restrooms was due for wallboard. To our right, a new mechanical space awaited its tenant, an energy-efficient HVAC unit that will push air to overhead blowers throughout the building.

That big contraption should arrive in March. Installation will be a tight fit, says Mynhier, but a recent test run with a mockup proved that it’s possible. The machine will enter Chase via the door facing Carnegie Science, will be trundled through the lobby past the Memorial Commons entry, and will be hoisted a half-level, about five feet, through a recently cut doorway leading to its home near the central stair.

What’s up elsewhere in Chase Hall? Let’s turn our backs on the central stair and descend that half-level back to the first floor lobby (carefully — the stairs haven’t been built yet). Now we’re in the original section of the building, opened in 1919.

Along the wall facing Campus Avenue, around the old building entrance, the Center for Purposeful Work is the prime occupant.

This newly wall-boarded space on Chase Hall’s first floor will be the reception area for the Center for Purposeful Work. Now removed, the stairway that formerly served this floor from Campus Avenue is just out of the frame at right. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)
This newly wallboarded space on Chase Hall’s first floor will be the reception area for the Center for Purposeful Work. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

The new Purposeful Work offices have come a long way in what seems like a short time. Most wallboard is in place and the color coats of paint, though not the final coats, are apparent. (Topcoats will appear near the end of the renovation, minimizing opportunities for marring new paint.) Utility rough-ins are complete and inspected. Subflooring has been laid.

At the other end of the first floor, in Chase Hall Lounge, a new wall erected between two original brick columns separates the lounge from Purposeful Work. The replacement floor overhead that we told you about last time, necessitated by water damage to floor joists, is complete and quite beautiful.

The carpentry was performed by North & South Construction Services of Newington, N.H., and the masonry rebuilt by Consigli Construction, which was founded as a masonry operation in 1905 and is now the firm that’s managing overall construction on the Chase project.

Just a few weeks ago there was a gaping hole in the floor adjacent to the windows in this second-floor lounge. The elaborate repair involving new masonry and joist extensions is now hidden and few people will ever give it a thought. But the dark steel supports that bracket the windows will remain exposed. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)
Just a few weeks ago there was a gaping hole in the floor by the windows in this second-floor lounge. The elaborate repair, involving new masonry and joist extensions, is now hidden and few people will ever give it a thought. But the dark steel supports that bracket the windows will remain exposed. The exterior view is of Chu Hall, opened in 2016. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Also in the realm of offices and flexible spaces on the second floor, new walls have been primed and given their first color coats. Utility rough-ins are complete except for fire-protection systems. Suspended-ceiling grids are going up, with tiles soon to follow. Here too, new subflooring is in place.

In yet another concession to modernity, meeting rooms and student storage areas throughout Chase will be equipped with electronic locks controlled by card readers, similar to those that regulate exterior access to Bates buildings. This will eliminate the distribution of olde-fashioned mechanical keys.

“That way we won’t have to worry about keys that are lost or not returned,” explained Paul Farnsworth, senior project manager for Bates Facility Services and our tour guide on Jan. 11.

Finally, let’s check out the ground floor. All but unrecognizable is the area where student post office boxes and the College Store were situated back in auld lang syne. This will become a student lounge within the so-called Student Center, which also includes a study room that’s now demarcated with new wall studs.

From left, Campus Avenue, the site fence, Carnegie Science Hall, and a Chase Hall entrance fronted by new hardscaping, swaddled against the weather. The Kenison Gate is barely discernable behind the signpost and adjacent utility pole  at left. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

From left, Campus Avenue, the site fence, Carnegie Science Hall, and a Chase Hall entrance fronted by new hardscaping, swaddled against the weather. The Kenison Gate is barely discernable behind the signpost and adjacent utility pole at left. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Finishing wallboard and subflooring seams in the second-floor corridor in Chase Hall. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Finishing wallboard and subflooring seams in the second-floor corridor in Chase Hall. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Utility rough-ins are about done, the first coat of finish paint applied, and the ceiling grid hung in this open area on the second floor of Chase Hall. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Utility rough-ins are about done, the first coat of finish paint applied, and the ceiling grid hung in this open area on the second floor of Chase Hall. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Shown on a second-level ceiling is an HVAC fan-coil unit with air ducts and the white-insulated pipes that feed it hot and cold water. The water heats or cools the air pushed out by the unit. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Shown on a second-level ceiling is an HVAC fan-coil unit with air ducts and the white-insulated pipes that feed it hot and cold water. The water heats or cools the air pushed out by the unit. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Shown in a second-floor office, this is one of 15 new video monitor installations in Chase Hall. The boost that COVID gave to Zoom video communications has made such installations more important than ever. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Shown in a second-floor office, this is one of 15 new video monitor installations in Chase Hall. The boost that COVID gave to Zoom video communications has made such installations more important than ever. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Progress in a second-floor office includes new subflooring, a grid for the suspended ceiling, and the first round of wall paint finish coats. The windows afford a view of Chase Hall’s roof. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Progress in a second-floor office includes new subflooring, a grid for the suspended ceiling, and the first round of wall paint finish coats. The windows afford a view of Chase Hall’s roof. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

The Chase Hall renovation has had aspects of an archaeological project. Shown are three enlargers, devices used in the days of film photography to make prints. Sizing, focus, and other variables were controlled mechanically. The enlargers are parked for now in the office of the Bates Student newspaper. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

The Chase Hall renovation has had aspects of an archaeological project. Shown are three enlargers, devices used in the days of film photography to make prints. Sizing, focus, and other variables were controlled mechanically. The enlargers are parked for now in the office of the Bates Student newspaper. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Remnants of the Chase Hall darkroom, used in ancient times for producing images from paper, strips of celluloid, and precious metals, are stored in the once and future office of the Bates Student newspaper. Shown is the darkroom timer, used for controling chemical reactions. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Remnants of the Chase Hall darkroom, used in ancient times for producing images from paper, strips of celluloid, and precious metals, are stored in the once and future office of the Bates Student newspaper. Shown is the darkroom timer, used for controlling chemical reactions. (Doug Hubley/Bates College)

Adjacent to the Student Center, in the old College Store retail space, new offices for Student Affairs are taking shape. There, electrical rough-ins — that is, the installation of cables and other components that will feed things like lights and outlets — are done. Mechanical roughs, primarily HVAC gear, are going in now.

Can we talk? Campus Construction Update loves to hear from you, especially if you’re giving away carbon paper. Please send questions, comments, and reminiscences about construction at Bates College to dhubley@bates.edu, with “Campus Construction” or “Didn’t the Kinks play ‘Lula’ — ‘L-U-L-A, Lula’?” in the subject line.

View Comments