When the Class of 2019 left campus as alumni, the West Quad construction site was hidden from graduation attendees by the wall that stretches across Middle Path. Over the summer, the new library, to be called Kenyon Commons, has sprung up from what was previously referred to as “the pit,” as the construction team and the College try to hold to their finish date of summer 2020.
To celebrate the progress on the Kenyon Commons, the college will be hosting a special community-wide event on September 10. “We’re going to have what’s called a topping-off ceremony where the last — ceremonially the last — steel beam gets put on the roof,” Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said.
Leading up to the ceremony, the purple beam will sit on Middle Path, where anyone who wishes to will be able to sign it and “be a part of the building forever,” Kohlman said. “We’ll have a little ceremony with President Decatur, people will sign it and then they’ll lift it up and put it in place.”
Along with the Kenyon Commons, the construction team has made progress on the other West Quad projects. They have started digging a tunnel which will become the loading dock for the admissions building, and in about two weeks the tunnel will be closed from public view as they start to build the new admissions building on top. The West Quad will also include a parking garage that will house most of the faculty parking. However, according to Kohlman, “the parking garage is just a giant hole still.”
Kenyon still faces difficulties with completing the project within the initial time frame. “All in all, things are moving at a good pace now,” Kohlman said. “[But] we had our initial delays that we talked about over and over last year that we’re still fighting to deal with.”
While production ramps up on the West Quad, Village construction has almost concluded. The opening of Chilitos will mark the end of a nearly four-year project that saw the relocation of the Village Market, Bookstore and Black Box Theater, along with the construction of new Gaskin Avenue apartments, study spaces and the space that will become Chilitos. While the school has been renovating the two study spaces over the summer, Kohlman expects both of them to be fully open by next Monday.
Chilitos, started by Fiesta Mexicana owner Jose Avalos, is currently hiring as they attempt to pass a final health inspection after a water heating snafu. “We had an unfortunate failure of the hot water heater earlier, and they can’t get their final health inspection if they don’t have hot water,” Kohlman said. Everything else on the interior has been set up and the sign has been on the front side of the Gaskin Avenue apartments since last April. The restaurant will be the fourth restaurant and third bar in the village, marking the first time Gambier has had this many since the Gambier Grill, more widely known as the Cove, shut down after the fall 2015 semester.