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College to begin round of construction over summer

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The college will start several new construction projects this summer to accommodate the growing student population. The projects include a new residence hall between PPR and the baseball fields, a new academic building to be called Whittier, new parking lots by Cunningham Field and the Barn, transforming the old bookstore into a computer science lab, constructing new art studios in Beardsley, and expanding the space at the 101 S. Chester road office, finishing the renovations of the ML bathrooms, and refurbishing Dana and Hallowell.

The new residence hall, currently known as New PPR, will be apartmentment style with each room having a living area, a kitchen, and five to six beds. The building will have 120 beds in total. Construction will begin after alumni weekend on June 6th and will finish in August of 2017. The building will include many outdoor and indoor flexible-use spaces, similar to the Danawell multipurpose room. These additions are in response to conversations had during the preparation of the campus master plan, in which students expressed a need for more student spaces.

“[One of the goals was] trying to build more connectivity and greater density of student population [by PPR],” said Dean of Students Liz Braun.

In addition to the student space, the college has also focused on sustainable building practices. These will include top-grade insulation,geothermal wells, and solar panels that will be able to provide up to 15 percent of the building’s power. The residence hall will be in accordance with the college’s new sustainability framework but will not be LEED certified. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a popular third-party verification for environmentally conscious building.

“The issue with the LEED certification is you’re filling out a lot of paperwork and you’re not getting the benefit out of it. We’d rather invest the time into doing what’s best. The other thing with the LEED standards is we actually feel the need to be stronger on areas like stormwater management than the LEED standards allow for so we’re kind of pushing that envelope” explained Greg Brown, Vice President for Finance and Administration.

The new academic building, Whittier, will also include geothermal wells and other environmental features. Construction will start behind the Lang Center after alumni weekend and be completed by the spring of 2017. The building will be 19 thousand square feet and is expected to cost $12 million. The building will be a temporary home for biology, engineering, and psychology as the BEP is being constructed. After the construction of the new BEP building, Whittier will become a new art building, in attempt to accommodate for the recent increase in studio art majors.

After Whittier is finished, the college will begin the process of tearing down Beardsley to start building BEP. This building, which will be bigger than Parrish, has a budget of $126 million and will take four years to open. The budget for environmental infrastructure alone is $12 million. After the main part of the building is done Hicks will be torn down, and the last part of the building will be finished.

Each major project coming up, the residence hall, BEP, and Whittier have different contractors. This helps with the labor demand for all the projects.

“It also helps keep the pricing competitive if we have them fighting with each other, so that’s a good thing,” said Brown.

Smaller projects for the summer include transforming the old bookstore area into a new computer science lab. As the CS department grows there has been a struggle to find space for the new lab, so for the next couple of years there will be a new lab in the basement of Tarble.

“We’re going to be adding a computer science space there until such time as we do the Clothier renovation but there was an urgent need to get that done and we still have a lot of work to do related to figuring out just what the clothier renovation is going to look like,” said Brown.

They will also finish re-doing the ML bathrooms and complete touch-ups on Dana and Hallowell to help the flow between the two buildings and the connector.

In addition to the college’s own construction projects, SEPTA will be building a new trestle in Crum Woods. The Media-Elwyn line will be closed past Swarthmore from approximately memorial day to labor day.

Looking forward, the college is hoping to continue to renovate student space creating more areas like Eldridge Commons in the Science Center.

“We know that there are renovations and things that we want to do in a number of student oriented spaces on campus so athletics, the library, clothier and Sharples all are in need of attention so as a first step we are going to be working on a visioning process that will work upon the work we did during the campus master plan,” said Braun.

The administration is calling this entire process a migration.They are trying to focus on the campus as a whole as opposed to building by building. As buildings are built and torn down they are attempting to limit the number of times departments have to move while allowing the space to grow.

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