Several Major Renovation Projects at Yale University Will Keep Connecticut Construction Workers Busy into the Fall

Several long-term construction projects on the Yale University campus – including a $37-million renovation of the massive Payne Whitney Gymnasium and ongoing work at Sterling Memorial Library – provided scores of local summer construction jobs, with the promise of more work in coming months.

In an effort to help boost the local economy, the University is continuing to award most of its construction contracts to firms that maintain offices in Connecticut, says Arch Currie, director of project management in the Office of Facilities. Current major renovation projects include the Law School, a heavily used lecture hall, the Hall of Graduate Studies and several undergraduate residential colleges. The University also began construction this summer on an $11-million music library.

“Last year, there were a number of renovations that had to be done by the end of the summer. This year, there are several projects that are very large and will continue for several more months,” Mr. Currie says. For example, renovation of the Sterling Memorial Library, 120 High St., began two years ago and will continue for another year.

The library, which houses approximately 4.5 million books in its stacks, was completed in 1930 when environmental controls for book preservation were not considered in its design. The addition of new heating, air conditioning, climate-control, electrical and telecommunications systems will help preserve the priceless collection and make it easier to access.

Music Library

Construction on the new 26,000-square-foot Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, which will eventually house the bulk of the University’s 130,000 music holdings, started this summer in the northwest courtyard of Sterling Memorial Library, near High and Wall streets. The current music library “has, quite simply, outgrown its space” at its current location in Sprague Hall, Mr. Currie says. “Study space is cramped, and users have to wait to use limited listening stations.”

The new space will feature electronic access to music information, a historic sound recording room, a record listening area, two seminar rooms, offices, classrooms and an exhibition space. The arched truss ceiling will soar approximately 60 feet above the mezzanine, allowing indirect natural light into the courtyard space. The project is scheduled to be completed next June.

Law School

The Law School, 127 Wall St., has been undergoing renovations and expansions since 1994 – its most extensive overhaul since its construction in 1931. The work completed this summer focused on the renovation of Entry M of the dormitory wing, located at the corner of York and Grove streets. This wing houses student rooms, a laundry room and other common student facilities.

Work also began on the High Street wing, which houses classroom and seminar rooms, faculty and administrative offices, student and faculty lounges, student locker rooms and the Lillian Goldman Law Library. The work included lowering the sub-basement floor to accommodate the redesign of the law library. Renovations will continue in several phases over the next few years, says Mr. Currie.

Linsly-Chittenden Hall

The comprehensive renovations of Linsly-Chittenden Hall – LC, which began in late May, are expected to cost about $22 million, Mr. Currie says. Located at 63 High St., the hall is one of the most heavily used buildings on campus. The Chittenden portion of the building was constructed in 1890, and the Linsly portion was added in 1906. Originally used as the main University library, the building was reconfigured in 1930 as a classroom building. It is being taken out of service for one full academic year, with total renovation now scheduled for completion in August 1998.

The two main lecture halls are being totally overhauled and will have full audio-visual and data-networking capabilities. In addition, the building will become handicap-accessible through the installation of an entryway ramp, lifts and elevators to all 11 levels.

Hall of Graduate Studies McDougal Student Center

Also this summer, construction on the Hall of Graduate Studies’ McDougal Student Center neared completion. The center is designed to create a sense of community among graduate students, and to enrich both the intellectual and social aspects of graduate student life, says Mr. Currie. Among the major alterations was the conversion of the common room to a cafe/lounge area, where sandwiches, pastries, coffee, juice and soup are served. The center also will have a multi-purpose area for lectures, performances, cultural events, seminars and discussion groups, along with a fellowship library, a career services office and a computer room.

The common room ceiling is based on the decorative motifs found in the Italian Palazzos of the Renaissance Period, notes Mr. Currie, which had to be accurately and authentically recreated. The brick and granite hall, located at 320 York St., was designed by James Gamble Rogers in 1932.

Residential colleges

Summer construction included 12 bathrooms at Silliman College, interior work in Trumbull College, and utility piping in Stiles and Morse colleges. The work in Trumbull College consisted mainly of fire protection improvements, primarily in the common room, library and dining hall. All student residential areas in Timothy Dwight College were painted, and fire-safety compliance improvements were made throughout the college.

Underground piping in the courtyard adjoining Stiles and Morse colleges was part of a project that also involved buildings in the adjacent Broadway retail area. In the Morse/Stiles courtyard, drainage, lighting and landscaping improvements were made, and walkways in the area were replaced with exposed aggregate concrete and brick.

Other renovations

Among other campus buildings that received fire protection and other safety upgrades this summer was the 32-year-old Kline Biology Tower, off Prospect Street. A new “swing” dormitory – a temporary housing unit for students in residential colleges undergoing long-term renovations – will be situated on the triangular block bordered by Tower Parkway, Ashmun Street and York Square Place. To make way for the swing dorm, four buildings formerly occupied by the Offices of Facilities and of Finance and Administration at 20, 28, 30 and 32 Ashmun St. were demolished this summer. The offices have been relocated to 2 Whitney Ave. and 120 East St., respectively.

In addition, the Yale Power Plant is being modernized, at a cost of about $90 million, says Mr. Currie. The Central Power Plant on Tower Parkway, the Pierson Sage Power Plant on Science Hill and an interconnecting network of underground pipes and tunnels provide steam for heating, chilled water for air conditioning, and electricity and telecommunication systems throughout central campus. The new systems will come on-line toward the end of this year, Mr. Currie notes.

The comprehensive reconstruction of the Power Plant includes increased generating capacities of up to 340,000 pounds per hour of steam and 9,000 tons of chilled water, and a 60- by 90-foot building addition, which will house three natural gas-fueled turbines designed to generate both steam and electricity.

Still more renovations – many of them currently in the planning stages – will include Berkeley, Branford and Saybrook colleges, the Art and Architecture Building and the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle.

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