Renovations continue on dormitories

Most Yalies have seen construction sites dotting Science Hill or elsewhere on campus, but this year some returning students found themselves surrounded by work crews even in their dormitories.

Three of Yale’s 10 residential colleges underwent renovations this summer. Construction crews are close to wrapping up a major overhaul of Davenport College and have completed work on Silliman College’s Van-Sheff Tower. But workers are still putting the final touches on Davenport, while beginning two new projects — the renovation of Trumbull College and the erection of a new four-story residential dormitory and commercial building to house Silliman students when their college is renovated next year.

Project Management Director Steve Brown said the renovations to Davenport and Silliman are functionally complete for students, but some of the exterior work in Davenport may take another one to two weeks with construction workers still installing lights, painting walls and jackhammering concrete

“They’re not doing any hard construction, but there are some punch-up items,” Brown said. “It’s just basically touch-up work and finishing up a level of the courtyards. Everyone’s moving in as scheduled.”

Davenport residents said they have minor concerns about the continued presence of the construction teams but remain dazzled by the renovated college.

“It wouldn’t bother me too much if they were here,” Sabrina Howell ’08 said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Over the summer, Silliman received its second partial renovation with a reworking of its tower. Brown said the exterior “cladding” — a systematic patching and sometimes replacement of the college’s masonry — has been completed on its College Street facade.

Renovations to Trumbull began in May when the college was sealed off by a work zone extending into York and Elm Streets. The renovation of the college, which is slated for completion next August, is the largest project currently underway. Trumbull’s tight spaces presented logistical challenges early in the process, but with interior demolition set to begin this month, the project has not been significantly delayed, he said.

“The site is certainly more restrictive, since the courtyard is relatively smaller than other colleges we’ve worked with, and there were some issues with getting equipment in there, but we’re in full swing now,” Brown said.

Acting University Planner Laura Cruickshank said the Trumbull renovations are focusing primarily on restoring the college’s exterior beauty while reworking its interior space to create more and larger single-person rooms.

“A major goal is to have enough space for seniors to live on-campus, if they choose, in a single room where the desk doesn’t block the fire door,” Cruickshank said. “It’s also one of the most beautiful colleges, so a big focus has been to restore the beauty in the college, like the details of the stonework and leaded-glass windows.”

The size of the Trumbull renovations, which extend into at least one lane of traffic during work hours, led to delays and occasional gridlock as students began returning in larger numbers. Many students moving into Saybrook blocked off more lanes on Elm Street by parking in front of the college’s gates.

“We sat at that light probably five times,” Saybrugian Rachel Smith ’08 said. “It was a pain. We had to park illegally every time.”

The new Elm Street dormitory, once a parking lot, will provide a space for students displaced by renovations. Though the first floor has been reserved for retail space when the building is completed in May, the additional three floors will provide a total of 46 undergraduate beds, Cruickshank said.

While construction crews are just settling into these new dormitory projects, Brown said work has been completed on the new chemistry and biomedical engineering buildings. The renovations to Leigh Hall — a headquarters for the School of Music — and an addition to the International Study of Political Science building will also be ready for students and faculty next week, he said.

Work continues on the Yale University Art Gallery and on the Fence Club, a York Street classroom space that will house the Department of Theater Studies when the building reopens in January, Brown said. The new Yale Police Department station on Ashmun Street will open in November, he said, and in addition to serving as a central hub for the YPD, the station will include a community room to serve as a public space for University or local events.

Some longer-range projects include the renovation of the African-American Cultural Center, which Brown said benefited from exterior work this summer but still requires interior improvements, and work on the Yale Bowl, which will see its home-side seating replaced by Sept. 4 and its other renovations completed a year later, he said.

But Cruickshank said there are also another handful of projects due to begin construction roughly within a year, most notably a comprehensive reworking of the underground Cross Campus Library due to begin next May and finish in August 2007.

Other projects Cruickshank listed include a new forestry and environmental studies building unmatched in terms of sustainability; a new building for molecular, cellular and developmental biology research that will consolidate a number of faculty research groups into one space; and a new history of art building that will be connected to the Art & Architecture Building by a new arts library.

The University’s plans for these new projects include building over an additional two parking lots, but Cruickshank said Yale administrators do not consider the reduced parking around central campus areas to be a negative factor.

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