Panel discusses construction and repairs on Grounds

Sundgren, others explain Rotunda restoration's progress, Newcomb Hall, McCormick Bridge


Panelists speak about construction on Grounds

Marshall Bronfin | The Cavalier Daily

Construction projects are an inescapable reality for the University, Chief Facilities Officer Donald Sundgren acknowledged in a panel Wednesday evening hosted by Student Council’s Building & Grounds committee.

“You are going to school on a construction site,” Sundgren said.

Though Sundgren said construction was “ramping down,” many projects remain on the horizon.

The panel aimed to help students better understand current construction projects, including renovations to Newcomb Hall and the McCormick Road bridge, said fourth-year Architecture student Nell Connors, co-chair of the Building & Grounds committee. “We want answers,” Connors said.

The McCormick Road bridge, built in 1930, is unstable from years of wear, and a bus hitting the structure this past summer did not help the bridge’s stability, said Jay Klingel, director of operations and maintenance for Facilities Management. After the crash, the Virginia Department of Transportation established an 8-ton limit for the bridge, forcing buses to reroute in what Klingel called an “unhappy surprise” for many students returning from summer vacation.

The department plans to start repairing the bridge the day after graduation and aims to finish by July 20, Klingel said. The bridge will be inaccessible to cars and pedestrians as it undergoes repairs.

“This is a major route,” Klingel said. “All of us are going to be impacted by this.”

The University plans to ultimately replace the bridge, Klingel said.

During the panel discussion Klingel also described the impacts of Ruffner Hall renovations set to take place next semester. Pedestrians on Ruffner Bridge, which links Ruffner Hall and Brown College, will no longer be able to walk straight to Bonnycastle, because of construction. Instead, they will have to turn left and walk past the Physics Building to reach McCormick Road dorms.

“That will be for a period of months, I don’t know how many months at this point,” Klingel said.

Another major renovation project this year has been the restoration of the Rotunda’s roof, which is slated to be completed by graduation in May, said Annette Cyphers, director of facilities planning and construction for Facilities Management. But the complete restoration of the Rotunda, an extensive $51 million dollar project, has many phases to be carried out in the coming years.

During Winter Break, the Lawn will undergo a final turf replacement on its lowermost section, completing a project started this summer. The project will block pedestrian access to the lower part of the Lawn for a month or two, Klingel said.

The current Newcomb Hall construction will be completed by the end of the semester, said Dade Van Der Werf, supervisory senior project manager for Facilities Management. Newcomb Hall has undergone renovations every 10 to 15 years since it was built in 1950.

With a $33.2 million budget, the two-year Newcomb Hall project will add an additional 15,000 square feet to the building, Van Der Werf said, though structural flaws discovered during renovations have extended the construction period.

Three new dormitories on Alderman Road will open next fall, and a fourth is scheduled to open in 2015, said Patricia Romer, director of plans and programs in Housing & Residence Life. Dunnington is scheduled to be demolished in May.

After the fourth dorm opens, McCormick Road dorms will undergo renovations to install heat and air conditioning, Romer said.

Among other projects discussed Wednesday evening were the construction in New Cabell Hall — set to be completed by July 2014 — and the new indoor practice facility and a new theater, both set to open in the spring.

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