Without any major hiccups so far, construction managers and Yale officials say the renovation of Calhoun College is actually — wait for it — ahead of schedule.
Even as work continues on the seemingly interminable renovation of Jonathan Edwards College, builders at Calhoun say work begun in May is going well and they expect the college’s 14-month renovation to finish on schedule in August 2009. Officials in the University’s Facilities Office attributed the expedience of work on the project to the experience of both contractor and architect, along with the absence of any major unforeseen difficulties.
“The Calhoun renovation has been a really good experience so far,” said Samuel Carbone ARC ’94, director of project management at the Office of Facilities. “It may end up as one of our most successful renovations.”
Calhoun’s last renovation, of course, was anything but successful. In 1989, the University attempted to renovate the college , which was designed by John Russell Pope and completed in 1932, for the first time.
But that project, which the University aimed to complete in just one summer, made clear the difficulties of comprehensively renovating decades-old buildings in three or four months.
“Corners got cut in ’89,” said Jon Olsen, the current project manager overseeing work at Calhoun for the Office of Facilities. The rushed renovation timetable left some walls without adequate fireproofing and some ceiling lights inoperable, Olsen said.
This time, Calhoun’s contractors have more than a year to complete their work. But the team is essentially starting from scratch — the renovations of two decades ago have left Dimeo Construction Company with arguably more work to do than work done.
Dimeo also undertook the renovation of Trumbull College, which was completed on schedule in 2006. The company’s project superintendent, Joseph Tomasino, also attributed part of the project’s speed to its New Haven-based architect, Newman Architects. Interestingly, it was that firm that designed the 1989 renovation of Calhoun, although it was known at the time as Herbert S. Newman and Partners.
On a tour of the project for the News last week, Tomasino said the renovation is really two major projects combined.
“It’s not just a renovation on the inside,” he said. “It’s also a renovation on the outside.”
Over the years, the waterproofing on Calhoun’s exterior façade has failed. On most buildings, exterior restorations are a superficial process; at Calhoun, however, contractors have been forced to employ a preventative chemical process called cathodic protection — more commonly employed on offshore oil rigs than dormitories — after cleaning the rust off the steel underneath Calhoun’s stone. Pope’s only other building on campus, Payne Whitney Gymnasium, is undergoing a 5-year, $93-million exterior renovation to address similar problems.
But it is the work beneath Calhoun’s courtyard that students will most notice come fall.
A 1,700-square-foot cabaret, a buttery, television room, dance studio and wireless lounge are being added as part of an expansion of Calhoun’s basement, which will grow beneath the college’s courtyard. Digging for the addition is time-intensive but has already been completed in large part while work proceeds on the college’s exterior.
In that way, Tomasino said, it is difficult to say exactly how far ahead the team is until the project is finished. While some areas are far ahead at this point, others are closer to schedule; what is clear, however, is that the delays seen at JE are not on the horizon for Calhoun.
Speedy as the renovation at Calhoun has been, the college was not originally schedule slated to be part of Yale’s ongoing residential college renovation program. As with Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges, however, the University ultimately decided to include Calhoun in the program so as to avoid programmatic disparities between the colleges.