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Installation of fire protection systems in student housing and wiring are ongoing projects this summer.
Posted 06.16.06

Wesleyan Busy with Summer Projects

Wesleyan’s summer to-do list is 98 lines long. And each must get checked off before the students return for fall semester.

Judd Hall’s fifth floor needs a renovation, student housing needs life safety improvements and the Center for the Arts needs its lighting replaced with energy-efficient bulbs. High Rise needs a security card access system installed, campus roofs need a maintenance plan and the Butterfields need two fire escape landings rebuilt.

“We have close to 100 projects we plan to complete this summer. Our priority continues to be the maintenance and restoration of our existing buildings,” says Joyce Topshe, associate vice president for Facilities. “It’s a never ending process.”

The summer’s tasks range from small maintenance projects like painting houses campus wide, to major construction projects like overseeing the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center.

Wesleyan’s renovation, construction and maintenance bill averages approximately $30 million a year. Included in the spending is a list of major maintenance projects, which total approximately $7 million according to Cliff Ashton, director of physical plant. Major maintenance projects are performed on campus to extend the life of buildings and their functions, Ashton explains. This can be anything from code and safety issues, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, exterior and structural shortcomings, cosmetics and immediate landscape issues.

For example, Olin Library needs a carpet stretched this summer to extend its life another couple of years. Davison Health Center’s infirmary needs stairwell handrails because they are below code requirements. Student wood-framed homes need carbon monoxide detectors in place.

“Our focus during the summer is generally on student housing and academic spaces while they are vacant,” Topshe explains. “However, major maintenance work will continue throughout the year on the remainder of campus. We have more than 100 major maintenance projects a year, and much of this work occurs during the summer when our buildings are less occupied.”

While projects like these will be ongoing throughout the summer, Wesleyan will pay special attention to safety requests such as installing several new blue light phones on campus, additional lighting in dark places near the Center for the Arts and installation of lighting behind Foss Hill.

With so many projects to handle, Wesleyan needs a capable team to make sure the work gets done. The Wesleyan facilities team employs almost 150 workers year round, about two thirds of which are Wesleyan employees. The remaining staff is contract workers in grounds maintenance, custodial, and project management. The facilities team includes 38 professional trade staff in physical plant. These plumbers, electricians, heating/ventilating/air conditioning technicians, carpenters and locksmiths assist with projects when they’re not busy maintaining existing campus buildings, while yet another group manages the power plant and energy management systems.

“We are fortunate to have a very talented facilities and physical plant staff that have been instrumental in supporting our projects,” Topshe says. “This adds tremendous value for Wesleyan since these are the people who know our buildings the best and are responsible for maintaining our buildings into the future.”

The summer work begins this month, with a major renovation on Foss Hill to install fire sprinklers, upgrade fire alarms, construct four new undergraduate program apartments, plus some general renovations. Work has begun to construct new compact storage in the Science Library basement and construction of a new 15 bed senior house on Fountain will be completed in August. Building renovations will take place in the English and Physics departments’ faculty offices, High Rise’s kitchens and bathrooms and the Athletic Fields.

Wesleyan is approximately three years into a $300 million strategic facility masterplan and several hundred projects have already been completed throughout the 2.7 million square foot campus.

The most notable projects include the renovations to Downey House for classrooms and academic offices, a new Center for Film Studies, an addition to the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, an addition to the Freeman Athletic Center, renovations to more than 80 classrooms throughout campus, renovations to the Memorial Chapel and '92 Theater, construction of the new Bessie Schoenberg Dance Studio, renovations to create the Green Street Art Center, construction of new undergraduate student housing for 270 students on Fauver Field and 24 new beds for seniors on Fountain and Warren Streets, and the construction of a new synthetic turf playing field.

To view other major maintenance projects for the summer and the 2006-07 academic year, visit
http://www.wesleyan.edu/masterplan/other.html.
 
By Olivia Bartlett, Wesleyan Connection editor