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Progress continues on campus capital improvement projects; extensive residence hall renovations planned

September 29, 2011
Arrow Buff

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Gallaudet has made significant progress over the summer months with campus capital improvements projects. The new Living and Learning Residence Hall (LLRH6) is on track to welcome students for the start of the fall 2012 semester, digging is underway for geothermal wells that will tap the Earth’s bedrock for a cost-efficient source for heating and cooling campus buildings, improvements to the Field House locker rooms and the athletic training room have been completed, and the new neuroscience Lab in the SLCC has been completed–to name just a few innovations on Kendall Green.

In addition, students who reside on campus will soon enjoy significant upgrades to their living quarters. The Office of Residence Life in partnership with the University’s Office of Campus Design and Planning announced recently that Studio 27, a local architectural firm, has been selected to design improvements to Gallaudet’s five residential halls. Renovations are scheduled to be completed by August, in time for the fall semester. “We’re trying to make the residence halls more welcoming and more like a home environment, which improves the overall campus life experience for students,” said Susan Hanrahan, director of residence life.

Dr. Meloyde Batten-Mickens, executive director of facilities, provided the following update on the status of campus improvement projects:

  •  Chapel Hall–The flag system has been repaired and the base area updated. The timepiece technology for the Tower Clock is being reviewed to reflect the correct time and ease of routine maintenance. The Facilities Department is also performing emergency maintenance to the steam lines at the back entrance and the basement area of Chapel Hall. The back entrance will be closed until early October.
  • Ballard West–Building-wide enhancements have been completed, including new carpet, fresh paint, new room furniture, new shower tiles, and energy-saving lighting in the residential rooms.
  • Ballard North, Carlin, Clerc, Benson, Peet, RHB, and Clerc Center housing spaces–Updated energy-saving lighting has been installed, and occupancy lighting sensor installations are in progress.
  • Johnson Controls Initiative–Energy cost-savings measures such as environmental controls in buildings, underground steam trap installation, plumbing upgrades, central plant programming, a chilled water study, solar provisioning for pool heating systems, and computerized energy saving programs are running parallel with completion dates designed for minimal campus disruption.
  • Earthquake, hurricane, and seasonal rain storm damage and remediation plans–Facilities teams are working closely with Risk Management, Campus Design, and contracted structural engineers. Construction engineers have reviewed the more evident damage as a result of the August 23 earthquake and are planning repair or reconstruction for the following areas: College Hall chimneys, Kendall Hall roof and finial base over the front entrance, ‘Ole Jim roof near the base of the chimney, steam pipe break behind Chapel Hall, Ballard North review of east wing shift, and Clerc Hall window leakage. The engineers have deemed campus buildings safe and have been working closely with the University to ensure that the repairs and reconstruction designs are solid, within code, and will preserve historic guidelines.
  • 6th Street Parking Garage–Structural safety maintenance measures are in progress and are expected to be completed by early December.
  • Campus-wide crosswalk and ramp review–Campus Design and Facilities teams are currently piloting designs to improve areas from Elstad to Benson Hall. Once designs and costs are determined and approved, work will begin and campus feedback will be sought to help develop a solid campus-wide crosswalk and ramp system.

A priority of the extensive renovations planned for the residence halls will be to enhance students’ exposure to public space, and thereby encourage interaction , said Hansel Bauman, director of campus design and planning in the Office of Program Development. Another objective of the initiative is to have more welcoming entrances for the residence buildings and to help establish a rapport between the residence advisors (RAs) and residents and guests, who the RAs greet when they enter and exit the buildings.

Brainstorming sessions have been held with undergraduate students, graduate students, and students with disabilities to get their input on the features they would like to see in the residence halls. All of the sessions have gotten an enthusiastic response, said Sarah Hurt, project assistant with Brailsford and Dunlavey, a project management firm that has been retained by the University to oversee the project. The firm is also leading the LLRH6 project. The proposed concepts by the architects will be presented to the campus community on October 6. Feedback from that event will be used to develop a final design, which will be unveiled to the campus on November 17. (Times and locations of the presentations will be announced in Daily Digest.)

The residence hall renovations and other projects are all leading to the establishment of a comprehensive set of campus design standards. These standards “ensure a cohesive approach to campus development that respects our architectural and landscape heritage while making sure capital improvements are in keeping with our time and most importantly are guided by DeafSpace principles,” said Bauman. “To achieve this goal we are retaining young talented professionals recognized for their creative and thoughtful ideas. We find this young talent to be highly receptive to DeafSpace concepts.” Bauman also announced that a new firm has joined the campus design team– Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, of Charlottesville, Va., which is assisting with landscaping related to the LLRH6.

The campus community can claim the largest role in guiding the principles that will make Kendall Green a welcoming place for future generations of students. The Facilities Department, Gallaudet Technology Services, the Office of Campus Life, and the Department of Public Safety have proven to be enthusiastic partners on the new projects, said Bauman, adding that perhaps the most credit should be given to the students, faculty, and staff at the University: “They volunteer their time to serve on project committees and lend their wisdom to the process.”

29 September 2011

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