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Construction begins on site of new residential halls

Work crews broke ground this Monday on the new dormitory project on the south end of the mini-bald spot. Crews have already removed a parking lot, and cleared a number of trees from the area; this coming Wednesday the project will expand into the parking lot east of the current site. By working directly through the next 15 months, the contractors anticipate completing the project in August 2009, in time for the new dormitories to be used for the 2009-2010 school year.

The two new dormitories are being built with the joint goal of reducing overcrowding in current dormitories and reducing the number of students living off-campus. Once completed, the new dormitories will allow the college to reduce the number of students in over-crowded dorms, and open up some college-owned houses to faculty-rental.

The project will also shrink the “Northfield Option” program: according to a facilities report, at least 100 students fewer students will be permitted to live off-campus when the new dormitories are completed:

“Approximately half of the new residence hall beds will be devoted to increasing the number of students living on campus, thus reducing future participation in the ‘Northfield Option.’”

The two new buildings are designed to resemble the Nourse Hall, and in total will accommodate 230 beds. One building will use traditional dormitory rooms while the other will hold suite-style apartments. An underground tunnel will connect the two buildings. The college is currently planning to have the project certified to Gold Standard (the second highest) by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

The general contractor for the project is Kansas City based JE Dunn Construction. Ranked as the 5th largest general building contractor in the United Sates in 2005, JE Dunn has built dormitories and academic buildings on a number of college campuses including Rice University, Emory University and the University of Minnesota. On the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis the firm built the current Education Science Building, Frontier Hall (a dormitory), and the Equine Research Center. JD Dunn Construction’s larger projects include revocations to the Kansas State House, and numerous high-rise office and residential buildings.

The subcontractor Carl Bolander and Sons has also already been brought into the project. Based in St. Paul, Bolander is perhaps best known as the firm hired to remove the wreckage of the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis after its collapse last summer.

During construction there will be several adjustments to on-campus parking. Beginning next Monday a new lot will upon on the Nevada Street side of the site to accommodate the temporary closing of the Maple Street lot. The Maple Street lot will re-open after June 6th.

The final parking lot for the facility will be between First Street and Arena Theatre. Due to a compromise between Carleton, the City of Northfield, and the Northfield East Side Neighborhood Association, the new lot will include only a net-increase of three spots instead of the of fifteen originally required by city policies.

The construction has generally been unobtrusive except as a pedestrian detour and a source of noise for residents living along First Street and in Nourse and Myers Halls. According to the contractor, work will begin at 8 am while school is in session, and may begin even earlier during school vacations. Thus far the only resistance to the construction has been the text of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax posted along the side of the construction fence. The children’s story about deformation was presumably posted in response to the removal of trees on the construction site: twenty-three trees were removed in preparation for the construction, although twenty others were saved or relocated.

Carleton’s Facilites office maintains a webpage at http://go.carleton.edu/reshalls with updates on the construction, a virtual “fly through” video of the plan, and three webcams that deliver updated views of the construction site every fifteen seconds.

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