Library windows, Houghton renovation top summer construction activity at Fredonia

Roger Coda
photo of Reed Library under renovation

Large panes of glass have been removed along the east side of Reed Library so deteriorating sections of concrete can be repaired.

The major undertaking to replace windows and restore deteriorating board-formed exterior concrete walls in Reed Library is the most visible project in another busy summer construction season at Fredonia.

Construction activity totaling almost $33.5 million is underway in five buildings. Other projects include the second phase of the major rehabilitation of Houghton Hall and installation of new roofs on Alumni Hall and Rosch Recital Hall and air handling units in Mason Hall.

Non-energy efficient windows that are original to the library are being replaced on all four sides of the 78,100 square-foot building, including floor-to-ceiling windows in the Garden Area on the north side. Single-pane windows are mounted within concrete headers and sills that have to be replaced because they have deteriorated over the years due to winter weather, according to Director of Facilities Planning Markus Kessler.

Portions of board-formed concrete have also deteriorated in many areas around the building due to the same freeze/thaw cycles. Despite corrective actions taken over several years, Mr. Kessler explained, the extent of the damage became unmanageable, necessitating a comprehensive replacement of windows and repair of concrete walls of the library, which marked its 50th anniversary in 2019.

“The headers and base where the glazing (glass) sits is in bad shape, so we need to cut away concrete and reform the headers and sills as well as patch other areas as we go around the building,” Kessler said.

New windows have been installed on the library’s south side, facing the Carnahan Jackson Center for Learning and Scholarship, and on nearly half of the north side. Concrete repairs are underway and all of the windows have been removed on the east side, facing Fenton Hall. Window installation there is on schedule to be completed by late fall, with concrete repair work slated to be finished by summer 2021. Concrete repair work on the west elevation, facing Mason Hall, is scheduled to begin in mid-July. Glass installation is to start at the end of July and be completed by mid-September.

Sills and headers that support the higher recessed windows along the east side do not have to be repaired because they are not directly exposed to harsh winter weather, Kessler noted.

New York’s State Historical Preservation Office reviewed the window project and set guidelines that retain the historical integrity of the library, designed by the renowned I.M. Pei and Partners firm. That includes keeping the building’s open-air atmosphere by positioning the glass in headers and sills, as done in the original construction, instead of using traditional window frames.

“We wanted to make the library to feel very open,” Kessler said, and retain the uniqueness of the architecture.

“It may not look like it, but replacing the windows and glazing is a major project,” Kessler observed. “It’s a lot of glass,” he noted, as most of the building is below the plaza levels, so approximately 85 to 90 percent of all exterior walls are windows.

“It may not look like it, but replacing the windows and glazing is a major project. It’s a lot of glass.” - Markus Kessler, director, Facilities Planning

The library addition, the Carnahan Jackson Center for Learning and Scholarship, completed in 1991, is not included in the $3.22 million window project.

Work on Phase II of the Houghton renovation – the fit-out, or completion of the building’s interior partitions for classrooms, labs, offices and other spaces – is approaching the 60 percent completion level. All interior spaces have been framed, dry walled and painted and most of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are in place in the $25 million project.

Houghton’s first floor will house the departments of Physics, and Geology and Environmental Sciences. The Department of Computer and Information Science and Stanley Museum will be located in one-half of the second floor. A portion of the basement will house the physics lab, rock storage and the building’s mechanical systems.

Set to start later this summer is construction of the new Animal Colony, a $2.1 million project, in the Houghton basement.

Houghton is scheduled to be ready for occupancy at the start of the Fall 2021 semester.

Replacement of the original air handling units and controls in the three-story Mason Hall addition is also underway. The units, which have been in need of numerous repairs, were replaced in the south end in the summer of 2019. Abatement of hazardous material is complete and new ductwork is being installed on all floors in the building’s north end to accommodate the new systems that will be in use when the fall semester begins.

The commissioning, or fine-tuning of the new system, will take place near the end of the fall semester. The two-year project budget is $2.21 million.

Replacement of the roof on Alumni Hall, which began in June, is scheduled to be completed by the end of July. Its project budget is $550,000. The corridor-style building houses up to 200 first-year female students and was the second residence hall erected on the campus, opening in 1958.

A new roof, a $250,000 project, has been installed on Rosch Recital Hall. The contractor is working on minor punch-list items.

All construction activity was temporarily suspended by the coronavirus shutdown. Contractors had to leave the site and develop protocols that demonstrate how they would adhere to COVID-19 restrictions before they could resume work. 

Interior maintenance projects undertaken by members of Facilities Services include the upgrade of a portion of the HVAC system in Reed Library, improvements to ADA restrooms in LoGrasso Hall, installation of hydration systems in Grissom and Kasling halls and repairs to air conditioning systems in Maytum Hall, the Science Center, Williams Center and University Commons.

Routine summer maintenance and repair work are also underway in residence halls.

Outside projects include installation of LED lights in parking lots near Steele Hall Natatorium and University Stadium and parking lot striping.

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