Town hall highlights CULC updates

The Office of Capital Planning and Space Management hosted a town hall event on Jan. 28 in an effort to update the campus community about the ongoing construction of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Center (CULC).

The event included an overview of the project and an update of construction activities undertaken thus far, in addition to a town hall session for attendees to ask questions and voice their concerns about the project.

Concerns were raised about street closings around the construction site and as to how they would affect traffic through campus. According to John DuConge, a senior project manager for the facilities department, no additional street closings have been planned except for during May 2011 on a short stretch of pavement on 4th St. adjacent to the Rich building.

As part of the project, Skiles Walkway will be reconfigured to accommodate a wider path and more seating areas. Construction on Skiles will begin in Dec. 2010 after finals and continue until summer of 2011. Construction will be performed in several phases, and pedestrians will be able to move through the area uninterrupted. Work on the CULC began last year, with the rerouting of utilities around the site. Since then, crews have cut into the side of the hillside adjacent to the Price Gilbert Library and installed structural shoring walls. The crew performed extensive geotechnical investigations during the planning phase.

“It is very common to have unexpected surprises during this phase of the project, particularly related to underground conditions [soil, rock, etc]. So far we have not had any major surprises,” DuCogne said.

The project received funding from the state in Dec. and began work on the foundation shortly after. They are currently installing caissons (drilled piers) as part of the foundation. The biggest challenge facing construction crews thus far has been the weather.

“This has been an unusually rainy period mixed with an extended period of subfreezing temperatures. The weather can have a significant impact on this phase of construction, but so far the contractor has been successful in minimizing the impact,” DuConge said.

In addition, work has begun on the connection of the library to the CULC. Crews have begun replacing bricks on the lowest level of the west façade. The CULC is designed to connect to both the lowest level and the main level of the library. According to the stated plan, crews will use the existing doors on the lower level, but must cut an opening into the brick wall on the main floor of the library. According to DuConge, construction will extend into the Homer Rice Room on the main floor of the library but not into the west commons space.

“We intend to begin preliminary preparations for the wall opening during the winter break (Dec. 2010) and the opening will be cut during spring 2011,” DuConge said.

The caisson installation will continue through March, after which a large underground cistern will be placed under the Tech Green. The building structure will “go vertical” through fall 2010, and work on the exterior will continue through early 2011.

“The interior build-out will begin in summer 2010 and the building will be completed in summer 2011. The building will open in time for start of classes in Aug. 2011,” said DuConge.