Weather delays pushed back the finishing date for renovations on Beinecke Plaza, and as the end of the semester draws to a close, students on their way to Science Hill will have to detour around the construction site until work is completed — a date that University officials said remains uncertain.
Though the work on Beinecke Plaza was not finished by the originally slated completion date of Thanksgiving, Beinecke Library renovations are now expected to be wrapped up by the end of December, said Steve Brown, the University’s acting director of project management. Workers on Davenport College, the current focus of the residential college renovation program, have finished 35 percent of the project, he said.
“The schedule is to be complete by the end of this year, with Memorial Hall [the central domed area of Woolsey Hall] open by Jan. 10,” Brown said in reference to Beinecke. “The overall project is 75 to 80 percent complete.”
The delay of the work is attributable primarily to inclement weather in the summer months, Beinecke Library Director Frank Turner said. Turner said the difficult nature of the job proved a hindrance as well, requiring the clearing of an obstructed drain and the delicate installation of an 18 to 19-mile-long snow melting system.
“If we had a decent dry summer, it would have given us that extra month,” Turner said. “It’s also a very complicated project.”
The Beinecke Library aspect is one of two components to the project, Turner said. The other is the full plaza project, the completion date of which Turner said he was uncertain of. Turner said while he could not detail the final plans for changes to the plaza, some potential ideas include planting new trees and installing seating.
The closing of the plaza has not decreased the number of readers at Beinecke Library, Turner said. Portions of the library were unavailable to visitors for a three week period, during which time readers were still able to enter the building through an alternate entrance, he said.
Turner said there will be minimal exterior changes to the structure of the library except for a new set of steps to facilitate entry. The previous setup required walking to an entrance behind Woodbridge Hall to access the library.
“That will change the traffic pattern, and we hope that it will open the plaza more,” Turner said.
Davenport College appears to be on track at the moment for fall completion, Brown said. He said 95 percent of the demolition work is completed. In addition to “cleaning out basement areas,” improvements were made to the master’s house, a storm sewer line that services Pierson College was connected, and the foundation was installed for a new small building which contains eight rooms.
Current and future plans include drywall work, equipping spaces with mechanical and electrical additions, and changes to the exterior facade, Brown said.
Yale President Richard Levin stressed the necessity of adhering to the original fall projection date.
“We can’t miss on those,” Levin said. “We have to get students back into the colleges.”
Davenport Master Richard Schottenfeld said the general consensus among the construction crew is optimistic due to their being “ahead of schedule.” While he said work on Davenport was not without its challenges in the early stages of renovation, a fall completion is an inevitable prospect.
“I think their sense is that they are moving along quite nicely,” Schottenfeld said. “We certainly will be moving in at the end of August when we start the term.”
Turner extended his comments on Beinecke to University projects in general noting that they seldom turn out entirely as planned.
“Certain things became more complicated than we thought they were going to be,” Turner said. “In a way, that is true of all projects.”