Campus construction, renovations on target

Other than some minor setbacks due to weather and injuries, construction on the Norwich campus is well underway, keeping under budget as well as sticking to a tight schedule.

“Construction has gone as smoothly as expected,” said Dick Terk, project manager for construction at Norwich University. “It has been a great place to work, and the people we are working with are fantastic.”

Engelberth Construction of Colchester, Vt., has been the main contractor in the construction on campus, working with Norwich Facility Operations to ensure that all construction goes smoothly for both the company and the Norwich community.

“The students especially, are the most respectful of any campus that I, myself, have worked on,” said Terk, noting the company has had no problems with students or faculty interfering with construction.

For the most part, the construction efforts around campus have had few obstacles to overcome, though there was a recent injury on site. On Monday, Jan. 29, an accident occurred at the Mack Hall construction site, according to a memorandum that was sent out to the Norwich community by the head of public safety, Lawrence Rooney.

“Northfield ambulance services responded at 8 a.m., and the injured worker was transported off campus at 9 a.m. We do not have any information as to the condition of the injured worker.”

Norwich officials expressed their concerns and sent well wishes to the worker and their family.

David Magida, the chief administrative officer at Norwich University explained that all safety measures and precautions are coordinated by the contractor, including procedures following workplace accidents.

“They have a protocol that they follow for doing investigations and maintaining safety. It is up to them to do the full investigation and make any changes that are necessary,” he said.

The major issue in the work going on around the Norwich campus has been dealing with extreme weather conditions delaying construction of Mack Hall, which is slated to open in August of 2018.

“The biggest problem we have had as of recent is the weather,” said Terk. “The really cold snap we had really hurt us as far as production goes.”

Workers during the January cold spell saw below degree temperatures as low as minus 20 during the first week of 2018. Terk said workers“bundled up as best as they could and everyone kept working” even though the cold made the simplest tasks into a difficult endeavor.

The company figured that they lost about two weeks time of construction due to the weather. What they did in the meantime was change their schedule and sequencing around so that they could make up the time that they lost.

“We are really close to being back on schedule in order to finish the projects on time and within the projected cost.”

According to Norwich, the new $24 million Mack academic building “will create engaging, flexible, and active learning spaces through the collaboration of interactive classrooms, case-study rooms, pocket lounges, cyber-security War room and a multi functional auditorium space.”

That project is tied also to renovations to Webb, Dewey and Ainsworth Halls, for a combined $48.5 million project.

The new building is named for Robert B. ’64, H ’06, trustee emeritus and Tammie Mack. When all the buildings are completed in 2019, 40 percent of all academic space on campus will be new or have had a complete upgrade or renovation, according to Norwich.

Mack will contain the academic programs of the school of Business and Management, Accounting, Computer Science, Computer Security & Information Assurance and Management.

The dramatic revamp of campus is praised by students and faculty.

“For the past 32 years I have witnessed President Schneider’s actions change the campus for good,” said Dr. Mehdi Mohaghegh, professor of economics and financial management, who has been teaching on campus for all those years. “The campus has been constantly improving making it a comfortable place for both students and faculty to be a part of.”

Since Mohaghegh has his office in Dewey hall, he has been near the epicenter of construction for the last few months. “The construction for me, personally, has not been a bother or distraction for my work, yet not being able to park near my office is difficult.”

Parking on campus for the past year has been a hassle for both students and faculty alike, who have had trouble finding parking in proximity to their classes and offices.

“It’s not really convenient for me to walk from the other side of the campus every day due to some medical problems, but that’s not as important as having a new building on campus for the business school,” said Mohaghegh.

Students have complained all year long about the lack of parking and accessible routes to classes. Yet with construction updates and new walking routes, students are able to get around easier in the colder months.

“Walking from Crawford hall to Webb Hall, has been tough without having access to the cut through between the Harmon Wall and Webb Hall,” said Jonathon Bruce, 23, a senior environmental science major, from Plymouth, Mass. But the bother will be worth it in the end, he said: “Seeing all of the construction come to fruition, really makes me excited for what is to come.”

“We have completed Ainsworth, and we are using it this semester,” said Magida. “We wanted to update it in terms of safety and appearance, making it look clean and neat, while still paying respects to the history of the building and I think we pulled it off.”

Renovations of Webb Hall will start in May 2018 and will be completed in January of 2019, while reconstruction of Dewey Hall will start December 2018 and will be completed in August of 2019.

With all of the current updates to campus, and those still yet to come, students and faculty members will have to remain flexible and will need to adjust their daily routines accordingly.

Magida and Terk both expressed considerable gratitude for the behavior and compliance of students and faculty and hope that the tempo of the construction will remain high so that things can go back to normal.

“I cannot thank enough the students, faculty and staff for being so patient and for understanding the safety corridors and precautions that we have put in place” said Magida. “I know that it is inconvenient, but there have been no complaints and everyone has been wonderful about it.”


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