Completion of plaza rehabilitation tops major campus construction projects

Roger Coda
photo of library/McEwen Hall construction

Rehabilitation of the Maytum/Reed/McEwen Plaza tops an ambitious schedule of major campus construction projects that are expected to be completed or approach completion during the fall semester or enter their respective design phases.

With some 20 projects currently in various stages of development, this is shaping up to be one of the busiest periods in the history of the Facilities Planning department. “This is the greatest number of projects that we’ve had at once. We’ve done fewer projects with larger budgets, but this is the first time that Facilities Planning has taken on such a large number of projects at one time,” said Director of Facilities Planning Markus Kessler.

Installation of two accessibility ramps – one from the grade-level on the west side of Reed Library that faces Mason Hall to the upper plaza area on the same side, and the other from grade-level to the stage level of the adjoining amphitheater between the library and Maytum Hall – are the most significant components of this multi-year plaza improvement.

“To get from the quadrangle to the upper plaza level we needed to construct an accessibility ramp, as well as a ramp to the amphitheatre to make that accessible as well,” Mr. Kessler said.

“This is the greatest number of projects that we’ve had at once. We’ve done fewer projects with larger budgets, but this is the first time that Facilities Planning has taken on such a large number of projects at one time.” - Director of Facilities Planning Markus Kessler

Another major element of the project was replacement of deteriorating pavers – square sections of concrete that in some cases were no longer entirely level – on the upper level between the library and administration building.

New stair railings with lighting are also part of the plaza rehabilitation.

Walking surfaces on the lower plaza leading to Maytum have also been replaced, and new concrete has been installed at Symphony Circle.

Originally expected to be completed in two years, the plaza project ultimately spanned three summers due to the coronavirus pandemic, supply chain matters and unforeseen issues that included a broken drainage pipe. The break in the pipe was discovered when a section of the concrete steps, on the westside of the library, was demolished to open up space to accommodate the new accessibility ramp. Water that collected on the paver level was found to be flowing underneath the concrete steps, Kessler explained, instead of through the drainage pipe.

“We didn’t know (of the broken drainage line) until the concrete steps were demolished so we could put the ramp in,” said Capital Project Manager Kenneth Schmitz.

Plaza rehabilitation was budgeted at just over $5.5 million and will be funded by the State University Construction Fund. The plaza is an integral part of the modern SUNY Fredonia campus design created by the renowned architectural firm I.M. Pei & Partners in the 1960s.

Installation of a new humidity and cooling control system to serve designated classrooms, larger rehearsal spaces and instrument storage areas in the original part of Mason Hall is expected to be completed before classes start. Rooms where the improvements are to be made include: 1002, 1014, 1015, 1022, 2015, 2018, 2018A, 2019 and 2020.

The project, to cost just over $500,000, will bridge the gap while plans are developed to undertake a full renovation of all mechanical systems of the original part of Mason Hall that opened in 1942.

“This is a temporary measure until we do the big project,” Schmitz said.

An upgraded air handling unit and ventilation system being installed in LoGrasso Hall is designed to collect outside and inside air, remove dust and other particles from the collected air, adjust temperature and humidity and deliver refreshed, air-conditioned air into rooms through a duct system. Until that work is completed, the Student Health Center and the Counseling Center will continue to function in Jewett Hall and Igoe Hall, respectively. Both may return to LoGrasso during the fall break in October.

Work continues on rehabilitation of the interior of Lanford House, which serves as the President’s residence. The ambitious project, which may be completed by the end of August, included invasive structural repairs to stabilize the cupola, full renovation of the kitchen, living room and powder room, a new air conditioning system, electrical service upgrades, a generator and accessibility improvements. Design and construction costs were approximately $1.3 million.

Exterior masonry repairs of Gregory Hall, the oldest residence hall, involve rebuilding parts of the structure’s many corner sections that had cracked, along with some brick repointing and the rebuilding the front entrance accessibility ramp. The work is expected to be completed by mid-to late-September. Design and construction costs were just under $700,000.

An architectural firm is in the midst of developing a comprehensive report to assess the condition of nearly all residences halls to determine what kinds of improvements are needed and suggest timetables for that work to be done.

Windows, interior doors, wall finishes, ceilings, floors and carpeting are among building components being photographed and evaluated in walkthroughs of each residence hall, as is the structural integrity of each building.

A database of each building’s needs will be created and become part of the assessment report that identifies potential future projects and cost estimates. Work on the report, which carries a price tag of just over $106,000, began last winter and is expected to be completed later this fall. Staff from Residence Life and Facilities Services are assisting the architectural firm.

“It’s about getting a handle on what’s worn out, what needs to be replaced or how much life is left before it needs to be replaced,” Schmitz said.

Two newer residence halls – University Commons and University Village Townhouses – are not included in the study.

Much of the assessment data was assembled during summer months when buildings were mostly empty.

Several additional projects are in or will soon enter their respective design phases. They include:

•    Renovation of Jewett Hall into what’s described as a student success center that will consolidate many student services currently housed in other buildings into one facility. The services include the Registrar’s office, Financial Aid, Student Accounts, Academic Advising, Honors Program, a small venue space and International Student Services, among others. Jewett Hall renovation is part of the Building Towards Success Project.

•    Rehabilitation of the interior of the original part of Reed Library that may include creating new open study areas, small classroom spaces, rooms for student tutoring and a collaborative work/project space and relocating some existing collections. Library rehabilitation is part of the Building Towards Success Project.

•    Replacement of the women’s field hockey/lacrosse turf with a new synthetic turf; the existing grass in the track/field, adjacent to Brigham Road, with a new synthetic turf and the existing all-weather running track with a new running surface and creating new areas for field events; and a new athletic field that could be used for multiple sports.

•    Replacement of Kirkland Complex Plaza involving the removal of all pavers and planters and installation of a circular sidewalk, pockets of grass areas and new lighting. The upper plaza behind the outdoor patio of Erie Hall will be repaired.

•    Phase 2 of the Lanford House renovation, to include exterior painting, repairs to soffits and eaves, repair/restoration of windows, repairs and stabilization of the garage, upgraded outdoor restroom facilities and a separate storm sewer line.

•    Replacement of the Maytum Hall roof.

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