Reedies may have noticed the south wing of the library blocked off with caution tape surrounding darkened, empty stacks. We have already begun to see and feel the effects of the library renovations set to begin over winter break; however, the process began much before we saw its effects.
According to Director of Facilities Services Steve Yeadon, “This started several years ago with a study that the city of Portland put out regarding unreinforced masonry in the metro area. They were making a pursuit to entice building owners in the metro area to remedy these perceived unreinforced masonry structures all throughout town and the county.”
Some of Reed’s buildings appeared on the report and the college decided to conduct their own study, according to Yeadon. “[We] found that we only had three places on campus that actually did have unreinforced masonry,” Yaedon said. These locations were a wall in the Physical Plant, a section in the Sports Center, and the 1964 addition to the library.
Yeadon adds, “We took care of the unreinforced masonry in the Sports Center two years ago, and then we started designing a plan for doing the library. We actually developed, in 2019, a design; we put it in for a permit, we got plans, we were ready to go. We were working through how we were gonna fund this project, and then COVID happened, and that put the skids on everything. So we pushed back on the project until we got to this point.”
Now that a hard start date has been set for Dec. 13, 2021, Mark Breckius, the general contractor for the project, and his team have begun preliminary processes to prepare for the renovation. Yeadon said, “Removing and storing books was a huge process, and then after that was done, Mark and his team could come in and start taking shelving down.”
Brekius and his team also moved furniture and set up an area outside for machinery and other materials, Yeadon said.
When winter break begins, Yeadon plans for six weeks of demolition processes to begin. He says, “There’s gonna be an excavator in the building digging footings, and there’s gonna be jackhammers busting concrete and tearing stuff down. It’ll probably be the most horrific noise, dust containment, and abatement, so we wanna get all of that done during winter break while people—while students—aren’t here.” After winter break, students will return to campus to find barriers around the construction area and ongoing work throughout the semester.
As renovations continue, students can expect a number of changes in the way they navigate and occupy the library. Yeadon states, “I don’t want to sugarcoat things. It will be an imposition. I appreciate everyone’s understanding… There’s gonna be some discomfort. It’s gonna be noisy from time to time, and we are planning diligently to make that as least problematic for students that have to use the space.”
The team has been working around their renovation plans to ensure that students’ needs are being met throughout the process. Thesis desks have been moved around the library, although the decline in desks is not insignificant. The registrar’s office has been working to reallocate spaces that were used for classes and exams. All elevators will be fully functional over the course of the renovation, with the exception of a few moments when the team will be transporting materials and equipment.
All this difficulty will pay off by December 2022, when the remodel will be completed. Breckius expressed excitement, saying, “I think the biggest thing of all is the restrooms. Those restrooms were very, very small beforehand.”
Yeadon adds, “We will be getting some new space on the third floor for faculty offices and a large classroom, which is super exciting, but for the most part this is work that no one will really notice the benefit of, so to have to go through the pain to get there, we all share that a little bit, and knowing the outcome is really important to the safety and structure of this building, to support the potential earthquake that could happen.”
In the face of potential disruption and difficulty, the team emphasizes their openness to working around students’ needs. Breckius says, “Reed always has everyone involved as stakeholders, and when we started this… part of the stakeholders were students at that time. Now unfortunately due to the time, those students are probably gone, but… anybody that would have any sort of interest in that area has been involved, and we’ve heard their side, and what their issues might be.”
Recognizing that current students are stakeholders in this as well, “I, for one, am not a librarian. I’m not in there all the time; I don’t know how you all use the space expressly, and so there may be things I haven’t thought of, and if we can get feedback from students trying to use the space and understand better if there’s something missing, let us know and we can work to try and remedy that.”