Renovations Give Campus Overdue Makeover

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Parrish central dome obscured by scaffolding

This summer, the facilities department executed widespread renovations across Swarthmore’s campus. Some of them are more extensive, such as the additions to Worth Health Center/CAPS. Others are less visible, but equally important, including the repair of certain campus roofs and pathways.

Many of the renovations were done in order to shift Swarthmore towards more compliance with American Disability Association (ADA) guidelines. Swarthmore’s ADA Program Manager Susan Smythe said many buildings on campus had simply been not accessible.

According to Stu Hain, vice president for Facilities and Services, the facilities department was able to carry out the construction this summer due to the relaxing of budget constraints following the Great Recession. Summer maintenance work had been reduced to a minimum of routine maintenance during the last three years.

The gutted Worth Health Center nears completion

The Recession has drawn out this year’s construction, however. According to Smythe, the projects that remain to be finished (CAPS’s addition and Parrish roof) have not yet been completed because many suppliers don’t keep much in stock. Smythe says this is one effect of the “new just-in-time economy.

Worth Health Center has undergone a complete overhaul. “We gutted the building,” Smythe said, “which was an ambitious thing in the summer. We took out all the interior walls, windows, and the mechanical system.”

The goal of this project was to make the Worth Health Center more accessible and more modern. The building now includes two additions (an overnight patient room and an additional CAPS office), as well as a more updated system, with more room for meeting with patients and a greater focus on wellness and preventative care.

The health side of Worth is completed, and CAPS is scheduled to move back in on September 14. They are currently housed in Ashton House.

Hicks Hall was renovated as a “temporary five-year refit for the Engineering Department,” Smythe said. After a recent accreditation visit and in order to avoid losing their Engineering accreditation, plans were set into motion for construction. According to Smythe, the space did not lend itself to current teaching practices or to collaborative work, so new group work space was included.

The most dramatic change to Hicks Hall occurred in the Mural Room. The outcome of the renovation is a “classroom within a classroom,” which covers up the mural, preserving it beneath a new wall.

New interior walls force a name change in Hicks Mural Room -- photo by Engineering Professor Edmond Jaoudi

The second floor of Hicks features a new computer lab and lounge, and the third floor also houses a new Robotics lab.

The metal on all three Parrish domes is being replaced, with construction to be completed in October. Air conditioning will be added to the first and second floors as part of a two-year project, and light bulbs on the first floor were replaced with more energy-efficient ones. The second-floor lights are scheduled to be replaced next summer.

In LPAC, a second set of doors were added to the theater to create vestibules. These will let in less light and noise during performances. The downstairs bathrooms in LPAC were made ADA-accessible.

The roof on Lang Music Building was replaced with a new green roof. Like the campus’s other two green roofs on Alice Paul and David Kemp Residence Halls, the Lang Music Building roof will have educational as well as environmental benefits. It controls roof run-off, provides some insulation, lasts about twice as long as a non-vegetative roof, and will be used by students and professors for study.

Paths around campus, such as those in front of Worth and Willets Residence Halls, were redone. This addressed ADA concerns as well as issues of water run-off.

— photos by Lily Jamison-Cash/The Daily Gazette 

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