Though students returning to campus this week saw some parts of campus still shrouded in blue scaffolding, they also faced some completely renovated spaces.
On Monday, Sterling Memorial Library reopened its central nave after a 15-month renovation project that was funded by a $20 million donation. Stone, plaster and wood surfaces in the nave were cleaned, stained glass windows were repaired, new lighting and environmental controls were installed and the central mural painting in the space was restored. The nave now also boasts computer workstations, new seating areas and self-service checkout stations.
Kendall Crilly, Associate University Librarian for Program Development and Research, said the project was completed on schedule and on budget.
“We all know that the library is the heart of the University,” University President Peter Salovey said in a press release. “I am delighted that this beautiful and inspiring campus space has been renovated to provide better access to Yale’s world-class collections, and to give students and scholars modern space to study and reflect under the watchful eye of the brilliantly restored painting, ‘Alma Mater.’”
The restoration of the nave comes 84 years after the library was first opened. Crilly said that over time, materials that hold pieces of glass together begin to sag, causing the window to bow out. Outside of the nave itself, repair work was needed on areas of the roof that had been prone to leaking, he said.
Crilly added that the consolidation of the three service desks — circulation, information and library privileges — will allow librarians to provide more efficient service to students and researchers.
“The newly restored nave is not only a summons to scholarship, but an inspiration for the entire Yale community,” University Librarian Susan Gibbons said in a campuswide email.
However, not all of the University’s capital projects were finished in time for the beginning of the new academic year.
In a September 2013 email to the Yale community, Provost Benjamin Polak wrote that the refurbishment of the Payne Whitney Gymnasium tower was scheduled to be completed in August 2014 for a budgeted cost of $30 million.
But as of press time, the scaffolding around the exterior of the tower remains in place. Administrators from the Athletic Department could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday night.
Additionally, this July, renovations began on Sterling Chemistry Laboratory to put in place new undergraduate teaching laboratories, in addition to new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, and lab support, offices and student common areas. The project is set to be completed by fall 2016 for a total cost of $130 million.
Students interviewed were impressed by the nave and the new study areas.
Mitchell Jones ’16 said he is happy the University took the time to complete the renovations.
Others agreed, noting the importance of the presentation of both Payne Whitney and Sterling Library.
“As two of the most notable buildings on campus, both of which attract many visitors, the state of their appearance is crucial in projecting Yale’s historic and cultural past,” Marion Hirshberg ’16 said.
Anthony Diaz, the Associate Athletic Director of Payne Whitney Gymnasium and Physical Education, said delays to the original timetable were likely because additional sections of tower were refurbished as well.
While Diaz said he did not know whether the project was on budget, he said the scaffolding is slated to be taken down around mid-November.
“I’m very impressed with this project even staying close to the [scheduled] date,” Diaz said. “It’s a massive project.”
The President’s House, located at 43 Hillhouse Ave., has also been under renovation since last year.