Delays at Beinecke continue

Inclement weather has again delayed the renovations of Beinecke Plaza, but a completed section of the plaza will allow students to safely pass through the construction area by Feb. 1, acting Yale Project Management Director Steve Brown said Wednesday.

Low temperatures and high precipitation during the University’s winter break brought the renovations to a temporary halt, as did heavy summer rains in the early days of construction, and the project’s schedule has not recovered, Brown said. On its present schedule, the plaza will now be completed by March 1. Until then, Brown said the project’s construction crews are working to finish a small segment of the plaza leading from Wall Street to Memorial Hall, the central domed part of Woolsey Hall.

Brown said the route through the plaza will consist simply of a series of granite paving stones between Wall Street and the building’s entrance. While student safety will not be in question, the construction crews’ presence will be apparent, he said.

“The passageway would just be the open plaza,” Brown said. “Basically, the material that’s around the Beinecke Plaza continues almost all the way up to the intersection where the passage will be.”

Once the path is complete, Brown said the renovations will shift to other parts of the plaza. He cited Commons Dining Hall as a particular focus for the construction crews, but he said all parts of the project have continued to stall due to meteorological concerns.

“We’re working with the weather as best we can, but there’s not much masonry work that can be done during this cold snap,” Brown said. “A lot of the materials are temperature-sensitive, like the grouting of the benches and the grouting of the pavers, the mortar material. The material that goes between the pavers is temperature-sensitive, as well as the concrete pour underneath.”

When the reconstruction is finished, the benefits offered by the new plaza will speak for themselves, University Provost Andrew Hamilton said.

“This has been a complex project that will be worth the wait for both those above and those below ground,” Hamilton said.

The renovated plaza will incorporate features designed to make travel across its stones easier and safer, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Director Frank Turner said.

“I think it’s going to look very nice,” Turner said. “The paving stones now are slightly rougher than the original ones, so there will be less of a tendency for people to slip in wet weather, both because it’ll grip and with the snow-melting system, there won’t be any ice or snow.”

The Snowmelt system consists of several miles of tubing newly installed underneath the plaza, Turner said. A glycol solution runs through the tubes and is fed out when the system is triggered by preset temperature and humidity levels. Snow hitting the surface of the plaza will melt and drain through a series of pipes underneath the plaza, he said.

Other new additions to the plaza include a pair of elliptical benches on either side of the entrance to Memorial Hall, Brown said.

Turner said the library side of the plaza is “virtually completed,” aside from minor caulking that will take place in April when the climate is warmer, and he said the rare books library is once again fully functional.

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