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The Carletonian

College prepares for construction

<ng with Facilities, academic departments across campus have begun preparations for the upcoming science complex renovation and construction.

Construction for the first phase of the project, the Mudd-Music Transition, will commence in fall 2017 with the demolition of Mudd Hall.           

According to a 2014 estimate in the Facilities Master Plan, the Science-Music construction project will cost an estimated $100 million and is expected to be completed in early 2021.

The new science complex, which is a part of the college’s Facilities Master Plan, will include a building to replace Mudd Hall, renovations for Olin and Hulings and an open atrium with a café connecting the three buildings, according to Steve Spehn, Director of Facilities and Capital Planning.

“Mudd will be emptied out shortly after school lets out. The geology and chemistry departments will be out entirely by mid -July. October is when the demolition will start, and the construction for the new buildings will start that December,” said Spehn.

Mudd Hall currently houses the chemistry and geology departments. According to Spehn, the faculty offices for the two departments will be moved to the Music Hall until the construction of the new building is complete. The Music department will move to its new facilities in the recently completed addition to the Weitz Center by the end of the summer. Arena Theater and the Concert Hall were renovated last year to host lab equipment and teaching spaces for geology, chemistry and physics.

The physics department has already been displaced partially, according to Gretchen Hofmeister, Associate Dean, chemistry professor, and Chair of the Science Planning Group, which is a committee within the Dean of Students office assisting in the design and coordination of the new complex.

“The physics shop is already moved and is now located on first floor of Arena Theater,” Hofmeister said.

“It’s still very much a theater, but all of the machines are in there, and it’s a very spacious, very clean and very useful space. There is nothing deficient about that space, even though it’s transitional. It may not be beautiful, it may not be designed specifically for how we’re using it, but it’s going to work just fine,” she said.

Hofmeister added that academic research will continue throughout the construction period. “Students will still be able to work and do research during the transition. Our goal is that nobody feels like they’ve been cheated out of something,” she said.

The sub-basement of the building that replaces Mudd will house large equipment to increase the college’s access to geothermal energy, as part of the effort for the college to become carbon neutral.

After the science complex is complete, Olin and Hulings will receive renovations and the large atrium will be constructed to connect the three buildings. The atrium will include a café and large sitting area.  

Made mostly of glass, the “atrium will be a bit smaller than Sayles, but there will be plenty of room for people to sit, study and meet,” said Dan Bergeson, Director of Auxiliary Services & Special Projects.

“The atrium will basically be a highway all through the buildings, and we’ll be putting in a café in it. The café will be smaller than Sayles, but bigger than the Weitz café. We will have the familiar grab and go items, like salads and sandwiches, desserts, coffee drinks, cold beverages, soups and there’ll be a soft serve machine for ice cream. We hope that it will be a nice addition to the building,” said Bergeson.   

Hofmeister said that “the goal is that we’re going to have a science facility that is more integrated and more engaging of people who are non-scientists.

“It will be a space that is welcoming to people from all departments and disciplines, and the atrium will be a space where serendipitous encounters take place and creative ideas are generated.”

“The new building replacing Mudd will open up in fall of 2019,” said Spehn. At that time, the second phase of the construction will commence, as Olin and Hulings are renovated.

“Olin will vacate by fall 2019, closed for a year for renovation, and during that year, we will be making space for the computer science department,” he said. The computer science department will eventually move from the CMC to Olin.

“We are making sure ITS and the Math department have the space they need. They’ve been busting at the seams for a little while now, and there are math faculty that are not in the CMC currently, so we need to get everyone back together,” said Spehn.

Hofmeister and Spehn noted the logistical challenges of the multi-year construction project.

“It will be a huge project, probably the largest project, dollar wise, that the college has ever done.

“Given the site, the fact that we’ll be constructing new buildings and connecting them to two existing buildings while they’re in use and the fact that the construction is happening at the heart of campus means that there are going to be some disruptions and some inconveniences,” Spehn said.

Hofmeister said “everybody understands that there’s going to be a lot of pain in order to have this gain, but there’s wild enthusiasm for it. The president is working hard to raise the money for this, and that’s because we believe in this space and we think it’s going to be great.”

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