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Columbia Completes $35 Million In Summer Construction Projects, Classroom And Dorm Renovations

By Lauren Marshall

During the summer 29 campus buildings were touched by the University's most expansive and diverse summer construction season ever. While the completion of the new Broadway Residence Hall and the creation of Ferris Booth Commons (Columbia's new restaurant in Lerner Hall) will no doubt steal the limelight, many other projects, in particular classroom renovations and residence halls improvements, will contribute to the fresh start of the new academic year.

"Over the past few years, we have focused on developing the management capacity to make major improvements to the University's research, teaching, and living space during the summer months," said Executive Vice President for Administration Emily Lloyd. "This summer's successful completion of $35-million worth of construction on 44 projects shows the progress we have made. I'm very pleased that members of the Columbia community will return to find so many welcome improvements in place."

According to Mark Burstein, vice president of Facilities Management, all summer projects were completed in three months.

"Thanks to the patience of the entire Columbia community as well as the hard work of Planning, Design and Construction staff, we were able to complete our largest summer construction ever on time and on budget," said Burstein. "Although there were some close calls with labor and materials, our contractors worked with us to make this summer a success."

One hundred seven classrooms scheduled by the Registrar received repairs and upgrades during this summer's third annual extensive renovation and refresh programs. Improvements have been made as needed, ranging from new paint, floor finishings, sound-proofing, lighting fixtures to furniture repairs and new or refurbished chalk boards.

"Many of the improvements we make may seem invisible," said Wilfred Small, manager of public space and classrooms for Facilities Management. "For the vast majority of this year's refreshed classrooms, it may not occur to the users why things feel better, but they will." According to Small, this year's efforts build on the work performed over the past two years by the classroom team, a special crew of Columbia's own TWU mechanics led by Juan Arevalo.

The University is mid-way into a five-year project that began as a result of a 1998 report by the Morningside Classroom Committee, which gave a comprehensive assessment of classrooms and called for a long-term plan to improve Columbia's classroom stock. $8.75 million was committed for major classroom projects and $500,000 has been allotted annually for summer classroom refresh work.

Some Columbia classrooms received a complete face-lift this summer. Six classrooms on the 4th floor of SIPA have been stripped of their original avocado green décor that dates back to the sixties and now don wooden wainscoting, new floor tiling, new furniture with swiveling chairs, and in some rooms, lecture platforms have been installed. Heating and ventilation have also been upgraded in all rooms. The redesign was done by Columbia's in-house architects, Ralph Olsen and Janet Averill.

In SIPA, the new Picker Center marks the first independent home for Columbia's executive MPA program. The center replaces the Printing Services office located at the 117th and Amsterdam entrance and is the first reception space dedicated to the program.

The classic flavor of two distinct Hamilton Hall classrooms has been recast with the renovation of rooms 507 and 402, mock-ups for the four-year multi-million overhaul of the building to completed during the current 5-year construction plan. Two warm, bright learning environments have been created with colorful new floor tile in one and new carpet in the other, new lighting, fresh paint, refinished chairs and wooden details. "Our goal was to retain as much of the old as possible while meeting modern technical expectations," said Small, who noted that changes in ventilation, lighting and electricity were carefully made to preserve both room's original charm.

"More communication with different schools and departments has resulted in the input required to reconstruct these rooms," said Small. "The classroom capital plan has been so successful because of the close collaboration between Facilities, Arts and Sciences, the Registrar, AcIS and deans and faculty. It has been very exciting to watch this work."

In addition to the spaces where students learn, spaces in which they live received attention this summer. "This summer is the most we have done in residence halls for a long time, "said Ross Fraser, director of University Residence Halls.

Carmen Hall now has air conditioning. Wien Hall has new furniture, fresh paint, a new TV lounge and kitchen. Roof replacement and parapet renovation is currently underway. A fully renovated Watt Hall, now part of University Residence Halls, is home to 140 undergraduates.

Among this summer's creative conversions is the addition of 26 new rooms in McBain Hall. After over 20 years on the second floor, Columbia University Press moved to new offices at West 62nd Street, returning the space to students. "By adding spaces to the system, we have been able to include a group of 3-2 transfer students (who graduate with two bachelor's degrees) in the URH system," said Fraser, who noted that graduate students also benefit by the departure of 3-2 students from Carlton Hall, traditionally a graduate residence.

To bolster the University's fire safety system, hallway sprinkler systems were added as a part of ongoing renovations in Wien, Woodbridge, Carman and Hogan. A $7- million renovation has closed River Hall for the year. It will reopen in fall 2001.

Major summer projects include Columbia Law School's continued renovations of Jerome Green Hall. Building on last year's renovations of the 7th and 8th floors, 5 and 6 were gutted and renovated, improving student services and faculty office space. A $3.75- million infrastructure project for Avery Hall added restroom space and a new HVAC system that will bring air conditioning to the building next year. The entire building will undergo a $7 million renovation. In addition, a new state-of-the-art film screening room will open to graduate film students in Dodge Hall this fall and lab renovations continued in Chandler Hall.

Published: Sept 08, 2000
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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