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.
The Daily Gazette sat down with Stu Hain, Vice President for Facilities and Capital Projects, Jan Semler, Director of Planning and Construction, and Greg Brown, Vice President for Finance and Administration, to discuss current and upcoming construction projects on campus.
Despite a rough winter last year, the Matchbox is scheduled to open to students on Monday, October 20th. Construction is set to wrap late September and will then be turned over to the College to outfit the interior. When asked about the Shame on Swarthmore union campaign, the administrators noted that the contracting company awarded the Matchbox bid hires a mix of union and non-union labor — and that this piece of information was taken into account during the bidding process. Additionally, the College is in the midst of implementing a plan to give firms owned by women, minority, or disabled individuals an advantage in the bidding process, which will hopefully give these firms a 10% leeway in terms of their bids.
Town Center West + Relocating the Student Bookstore
The Town Center West complex is set to be complete by Commencement 2016. The new complex will include the inn, a relocated bookstore, and eateries. The College hopes that moving the bookstore closer to the Ville will bring these two communities closer together and foster a closer relationshipWhile relocating the bookstore will open up space in the lower level of Tarble, the College is unsure of how it will reallocate the space, but the administration is hoping to work with student groups to effectively repurpose the space.
New Biology, Engineering, and Psychology Building
The College’s newest academic building outlined in the Master Plan released this past spring is set to open in Fall 2018 with construction beginning in the summer of 2016 after the Town Center West complex is complete. In terms of funding this new building in addition to the $50 million gift from Mr. Lang, Hain said, “Our development staff is always looking for opportunities [and] they are actively in conversation about the Biology, Psychology, and Engineering building and talking to donors about that as a possibility, so certainly fundraising is a big piece of it… but that will not ever be done at the sacrifice of endowment fundraising for financial aid.” Brown added to this sentiment as he said, “We are counting on our key alums.”
Construction on several residence halls continued throughout the summer — including renovations to Willets’ restrooms, heating systems, and lounge spaces in addition to the Danawell connection which will increase the dorm’s capacity by 68 beds. While the Danawell project is set to open for students in Fall 2015, the College is currently creating a back-up plan is the case of another rough winter that delays construction. Hain said, “We have been challenged this year some with beds, so we have started to think about that this year. There are some options still available to us, so we are not ignoring that though we do believe we have built enough time into this schedule to make it work. It could get so mean here that we get slowed down immediately, but there are some options to accelerate that: by working longer hours or longer weeks which is what we tried to do with Matchbox, so we still have flexibility but we always think about the worst case.”
Additionally, the College plans to begin construction on a new residence hall in 2016 in order to facilitate the College’s growing student body. Due in part to the rough winter this past year which delayed construction on the Matchbox, the College is currently considering whether beginning construction before 2016 would be necessary in order to meet the College’s expanding population.
Chester Road Roundabout
Students living in PPR or apartments in the Ville may have recently noticed construction occurring between the hours of 8pm and 5am on the upcoming Chester Road roundabout. The plan is for night construction to be completed by September 12th in order for daytime construction to begin. The goal is to have a plowable, driveable surface once cold weather hits and for construction to resume in early March. Traffic on Chester Road should run during all hours of constructions, despite some limited lane closings. The roundabout is set to be complete by Commencement 2015.
New Student Parking Lot
Construction on a replacement for Student Lot C and Faculty parking at the train station is well underway and is set to open to students at the end of fall break. It will be located behind the small buildings on West Fieldhouse Lane.