Library Renovations To Be Completed By January

Caution tape has blocked off much of the Weiss section of the library since December 2021, where Reimers & Jolivette, Inc. has been working on improving the safety of the space. While masonry is reinforced to comply with seismic code, the opportunity to enhance the space’s functionality and accessibility resulted in some design changes. The process has not been without its hurdles, with asbestos discovery and abatement, alongside supply chain issues, presenting themselves as roadblocks to the renovation process.

Steve Yeadon, Director of Facilities Services, remains confident that the end of the process nears. He reports, “We are on track to finish by the end of the semester, but it’s looking like January instead of December.” Much of the work has been dedicated to installing footings in the basement, structural support in the walls, as well as strapping and rebar, in an effort to comply with seismic code. Mark Breckius, the general contractor, states, “A very large percentage [of the work] nobody will ever see, but it’s designed to today’s code.” 

Alongside the necessary renovations came opportunities for enhancements that the student body can look forward to. The renovated space will include ADA-compliant restrooms, a new window structure, classrooms, offices, and collaboration spaces. Yeadon also noted that old typing rooms, which were very cramped and no longer used, were reimagined. He explains, “Sheer wall structures were going in that made separate room spaces. DAR got involved and decided that we should have some space for students with specific needs and accommodations.” 

Though renovations have been moving along, a few unexpected delays took place. Yeadon notes, “We did lose some time on the schedule due to asbestos abatement. […]. Until we started doing demolition, we didn’t know it was there.” Renovations were temporarily halted while a specialist crew created an isolation space, contained the asbestos, tore it away, and cleaned the area. Breckius expounds, “It’s all tested when they’re done to make sure we comply with requirements. It’s very stringent by the state and also the federal government on how it’s all to be done.” Yeadon agrees, noting careful containment and disposal of all materials to ensure safety. 

The renovation team has also been at the mercy of the supply chain, which has caused numerous delays and roadblocks. Breckius laments, “Nothing is readily available. Everything’s on backorder, whether it be light fixtures, desks, or materials.”  Yeadon and Breckius note that these issues stem from the COVID-19 pandemic and were anticipated struggles, but a struggle nonetheless. Breckius adds, “In our industry, this is a daily thing.” He highlights that this is an issue that encompasses all parts of the renovation, as the team has been purchasing lighting, plumbing fixtures, structural elements, and furniture which need to be installed before the spaces can be operational. 

Yeadon reassures students that despite these struggles, the renovation has been moving forward. Although the unexpected asbestos abatement and product delays have lengthened the schedule, the team has made time up in other ways. Yeadon says, “It’s a schedule that kind of ebbs and flows. […]. Overall, I think we’re tracking well that we will be occupying the space next semester.” 

Yeadon goes on to acknowledge that the renovations have proven to be an inconvenience for members of the Reed community that need to use the space regularly. The construction’s impacts on faculty, staff, and students were taken into account in the schedule of renovations. The renovation team took advantage of the summer months to prioritize work in high-usage areas. Yeadon states, “When students left and programming was done for the summer, they moved into areas like the reading room and the unified sciences area. […] Now, they’re backing out of that and finishing that up.” As academic year programming kicks back up, work occurs with an awareness of library usage needs. Yeadon says, “We have a weekly touch base of ‘what’s happening today?’, ‘what’s happening the rest of the week?’, ‘what do we need’, ‘where are these impinging points’, and ‘what can we do to mitigate the pain anybody feels from that?’”

As the end of the arduous renovation process nears, Yeadon and Breckius thank students and the larger Reed community for their patience and understanding throughout the year-long endeavor. They also maintain an openness to feedback, and they encourage people to contact Facilities Services with any questions they might have. The end approaches, and students will soon be welcomed into a newly designed and seismically sound library space.

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