Design changes delay library extension

Since the beginning of the fall semester, the Library’s parking lot has been fenced in, awaiting construction for the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons (CULC). However, visible progress on the building has been limited.

“I know nobody can park [in there], but nobody really knows what’s going to be in it,” said Chris Olson, a third-year IE major.

After plans for the CULC had already been finalized, additional changes were made to better align the building with the campus master plan.

“We did ask the architect to go back and give us some alternatives to what they had originally designed, because… we wanted sustainability to be a very important part of what this building is,” said Andy Smith, senior vice provost for Academic Affairs. The changes represent an extra step in the design of the building and have caused about one month of delay.

The CULC project is moving forward and should break ground during the spring semester. In September, crews drilled for soil samples to analyze the site’s geological characteristics. “We’d like to know as much as we can about what the conditions are [like] under the soil, under the parking area,” said John Duconge, CULC project manager.

The Facilities department is currently working to provide utilities for the CULC. To prepare for the work, Facilities is building gates to close Atlantic Dr. and Fourth St. over the next two weeks. In line with a plan to reduce vehicular traffic through the center of campus, the closed roads will remain closed and become pedestrian walkways after construction has been completed.

Once utilities work has finished, contractors will begin leveling out the ground. “The architect is working very hard to come up with the final schematic design…so we can know what the footprint of the building will be,” Smith said. The surface leveling is slated to begin in the middle of December.

In addition to environmentally friendly features, the CULC will include many features that cater to students. It will have many open spaces that can be used in flexible ways, expanding on the ideas implemented in the Library common areas.

Members of the faculty teaching in the CULC will also be able to experiment with new pedagogical methods, given available grants and assessment from the Center for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. Smith said the CULC will provide first- and second-year students with “an academic home.”