Delay in renovations postpones JE reopening

Sometimes, money really can’t buy everything — even at Yale.

Despite one-time promises of a timely opening, construction on Jonathan Edwards College has been delayed, rendering nearly all common spaces and several suites unavailable to students. All basement facilities except the laundry room will also remain off-limits until around Thanksgiving, said JE Master Gary Haller, who has planned a Dec. 2 opening ceremony for the renovated college.

The majority of renovations to Jonathan Edwards College have been completed, but 15 of the college’s 220 residents will be housed in the Omni Hotel until construction on the two Weir Tower suites are finished.
Matt Lucas
The majority of renovations to Jonathan Edwards College have been completed, but 15 of the college’s 220 residents will be housed in the Omni Hotel until construction on the two Weir Tower suites are finished.

Haller declined to comment specifically on the reasons for the delayed opening, deferring to the Office of Facilities. Director of Renovation Facilities Samuel Carbone could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Chris Hurley, a contractor with William A. Berry and Son, Inc., — which built the Class of 1954 Chemistry Research building, but had never before worked on a residential college — said the age of JE’s buildings made the renovation process more difficult than some of the other projects have been.

Although many of the roughly 225 JE residents have already moved into their dormrooms, 15 students, who will eventually live in two suites in the college’s Weir Tower, will be housed in single rooms at the Omni Hotel until the weekend of Sept. 20. The University searched for on-campus housing for the “Omni 15,” as Haller calls the students, but no rooms were available, said Associate Dean for Physical Resources and Planning John Meeske.

Larry Juckett, the furniture-sales manager associated with the project, said the delays were “tough,” but not unique. The last-minute construction has been a staple of every college-renovation project, he said.

In fall 2000, for example, Branford College’s dining hall was unfinished for several months into the school year, Meeske said. So during the JE renovation, finishing the dining hall — as well as student rooms — on time was “the highest priority.” (The food at JE, which Meeske sampled during a “trial run” last week, was excellent, he said.)

The fully renovated college will include a theater, art gallery and dance studio, as well as a game room, buttery and lounge space underneath the dining hall, which will open Monday for Freshman Dinner. The extended basement space, Haller said, will allow access to the entire college through basement hallways.

Haller said the rooms at the Omni are being paid for by the construction company, not the college itself, though JE is chipping in to help make the hotel stay as comfortable as possible for the Omni 15.

“The college has paid for some embellishments, but we’re not paying for the costs incurred by everything not being completed on time,” Haller said.

“It’s very unfortunate that the construction company couldn’t get everything done in time, but JE was very accommodating,” said Liz Mandeville ’09, who is staying at the Omni.

The accommodations include single rooms — the students were originally going to be housed in doubles — breakfasts at the hotel and increased security options for late walks home, Mandeville said.

And aside from the restricted use of the basement and other parts of the college, for the rest of JE, early-morning construction may also pose something of a problem for those who avoid their alarm clocks.

“At least it got me back into the habit of waking up early,” said Kristin Darwin ’11.

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