While the majority of the student body left campus for winter break, Reimers and Jolivette Inc. began the undertaking of renovating the library. It had been previously flagged for having unreinforced masonry that posed safety risks for the Reed community. After a few years of postponement, ground was broken on the project in December 2021.
Steve Yeadon, Director of Facilities Services, reports on what has been happening behind the makeshift plywood walls that separate bustling study spaces from construction zones, “Demolition is nearly complete and is slightly ahead of schedule!” Yeadon detailed that they have completed excavation and will soon be moving on to pouring new concrete, “In the coming months we will see structural elements being installed. Seismic anchors, shear wall treatments, rebar, and grout.” After the structural elements are complete, construction on new bathrooms, additional stabilizing wing walls, and installation of new windows shall begin.
Yeadon notes, however, that although demolition is ahead of schedule, the intended completion date remains December 2022. He says, “We are basically a bit ahead of schedule now, but for all intents and purposes, as things can change quickly, we are, overall, on schedule.”
As demolition continues, Yeadon expresses excitement about the direction that the renovations are headed. Now that a substantial amount of demolition has been undertaken, the team maintains confidence in the completion of the project without encountering unforeseen roadblocks or difficulties. Yeadon explains, “The process thus far has pretty much gone off without a hitch. When working on a building of this age and after several past renovations, you are always concerned about what you will find behind the scenes […]. Built plans only get you so far, and it’s not unusual to find surprises. Now that demolition is nearly complete, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to run into surprises, so I’m feeling confident in my answer. There have been very few change orders to the work, and these do not significantly affect project cost. As with any project, during the pandemic, some of the biggest issues are labor, timing, materials, costs, and delayed deliveries. Again, so far these issues have not been significant, and we are still within budgets and on schedule!”
Although construction seems to be productive from inside the construction zone, the library continues to be a hub for academic activities, with renovations posing inconveniences and challenges to students who work in the space. Yeadon assures the student body that the team acknowledges the difficulties that come with ongoing construction in an active location, highlighting efforts to mitigate these. He explains, “The contractor has a very robust construction plan with well-defined construction barriers. They are working closely with subcontractors to express the delicate nature of working within the confines of an occupied building and the importance of the needs patrons have in the adjacent space. They have also revised their working hours from 6:00 am to 2:30 pm in an effort to get out of the building as soon as possible during the day and to schedule the really noisy work for early mornings.”
Another concern that arises when construction is ongoing in an occupied space is that of safety. Yeadon maintains a conviction that safety is paramount to the renovation team, saying, “Every precaution is being taken to keep everyone safe. Temporary walls are in place to define the construction zone and limit access to work areas. Fire life safety devices have been modified and repositioned to maintain proper protection against fire, egress, and notification within the building. Shoring of structural elements are in place and constantly monitored by the authorities having jurisdiction and our engineering team.”
Ultimately, he recognizes the difficulties that come with living and working near a construction site and commends the student body’s flexibility and tolerance of the ongoing renovations, saying, “I think all is going well and on time, and I’m confident that all users will be thrilled with the outcome of this project! I would like to express my appreciation of everyone’s attentiveness to the safety barrier to the construction zone. Also, I’m so appreciative of the patience and understanding that all users and the library staff have shown us through the, potentially, worst part of this project. While the contractors are doing all they can to keep the noise level tolerable I know it isn’t easy for anyone trying to study or work in the buildings.” Moreover, Yeadon asserts an attentiveness to the student body’s needs, opening the door for communication regarding concerns that the student body faces with a readiness to address these to improve student experiences throughout the construction process.