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North Campus Housing to be Completed by Fall 2011

North Campus Housing to be Completed by Fall 2011

By Mara Pottersmith

Despite the challenges posed by winter weather, the College’s three main construction projects are all proceeding well and on schedule, according to Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman. “We’re still on track,” he said of the North Campus housing project, the art history gallery and the coming studio art building. “The four new [North Campus] houses will be done by summer.” Those four houses will be ready for student occupancy by this coming fall, and as soon as students currently living in Forman House and Bexleys 113-115 leave this May, those buildings will be torn down to make room for the next five. “They’ll be done much quicker than these first four because they’ll have fewer weather issues to deal with,” Kohlman said.

According to Director of Facilities Planning Tom Lepley, geothermal well drilling is about 50 percent complete for the four new houses. “The upside of having geothermal heating and air conditioning systems,” he said, “is none of the North Housing buildings will have … unsightly, noisy air conditioning units placed around the buildings.” Without the geothermal wells, each house would need three air conditioning units, so the geothermal system “is more economical to operate and has a longer life,” Lepley said.

The studio art building, the project begun the most recently, “is underway, with the excavation complete and the concrete foundations and walls being poured,” according to Lepley. “The structural steel is being detailed in the contractor’s shop and is due for delivery late February and early March.”

The finished building, Kohlman said, will be around 35,000 square feet, slightly larger than the individual buildings that make up the science quad. As for the current studio art buildings on campus, Bexley Hall and the Mayer Art Center, typically known as the Art Barn, their fates are undecided. “The Board of Trustees will have to make that decision,” Kohlman said. “We will have to have some discussions internally to make a recommendation.”

Over the winter, workers were able to close in the art history gallery so they may continue working through the cold weather, according to Lepley. “Faculty will move in in the summer and there will be classes there in the fall,” Kohlman said. “On the interior, you can really see the whole building now. We’re really close to being done.” By now, the focus has moved in part to interior design and ordering the furniture. The construction crew’s current goal, according to Kohlman, is to finish the ductwork in time to test the climate control system “before winter’s over, because we don’t want to be testing and balancing heat in the summer.” The process of installing the elevators is underway as well.

One smaller project coming to an end is the installation of an elevator in Ransom Hall, an effort to increase accessibility at Kenyon, according to Kohlman. “We started it the middle of December, they drilled a hole through all three floors, and … the elevator people are installing the elevator,” he said. “Making that building accessible has been a goal for the last four years and it’s gonna be close.” By this point, Kenyon has accomplished, he said, approximately half of what was outlined in an Americans with Disabilities Act report done eight years ago.

As for Middle Path, Kohlman said, “I don’t think the goal is to figure out how to pave it, it’s to figure out how to make it accessible to everybody.” Campus accessibility is a long-term goal, and the College is continuing to focus on residence hall accessibility in the meantime.

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