Commons Renovations On Schedule

After four months of work on the Commons renovations so far, the project is still on schedule – albeit a tight one. The renovations, which will span 15 months and cost the school $31 million, are scheduled for completion in April 2009. Michael Williams, Director of Facilities, said, “We are on schedule, but the schedule does not have much flexibility.” Most of the demolition and excavation, basement plumbing, mechanical and electrical work are underway. Sprinklers and interior walls are also being worked on. “Recently, we’ve encountered a lot of water and ledge, which is solid Andover rock. It has made the lower levels [of the building] very difficult to work with,” said Williams. “With any construction project, there will always be surprises and the typical curve-balls when you see what’s behind the surface. For example, when the floors were built under the [vaulted arches] of the original Commons, a very thin slab was used, so we had to pour another floor on it,” continued Williams. The inside of Commons has been a mystery to most students in the past few months. Williams said, “[The inside of Commons is] completely opened up with all the old kitchen and servery areas stripped back to the building structure. Ryley is also stripped back to the structure. The dining halls, lobby, stairs and meeting rooms look largely as they did.” The Commons project will soon expect to be in the 80 to 100-worker range. “We will be ramping up the number of workers,” said Williams. The construction workers typically interact with Williams and John Galanis, project manager of the Commons renovation. “The Consigli construction company was chosen by a competitive process from pre-selected forms,” said Williams. The firm from Milford, Massachusetts also rebuilt the Bell Tower for the Academy. Consigli was recently ranked the eleventh largest general contractor in the area by Boston Business Journal with an annual volume of more than $200 million. The company has also been recognized as one of the country’s top 400 construction firms by Engineering News Record. The weather has been pretty cooperative in regards to the construction, allowing the workers to follow their typical hours, which are roughly 7 a.m. to 4 to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday with some work on Saturdays. The Academy hired Schwartz/Silver Architects Inc. of Boston to create the design plan for the new Commons. Schwartz/Silver has supervised construction, making many minor detailed changes along the way. During renovations, though, students have experienced minor inconveniences. Construction noise levels have not been an issue for most students, though the trailers have forced some students to make quick detours. Catherine Coppinger ’09, resident of Paul Revere, said, “I haven’t been woken up by the construction. [The only difference is that] I have to walk a couple steps further.” Carolyn Brown ’09 said, “The construction only goes on during the day. I live on the construction side, and even during the day I’m not really bothered by the noise. I am a bit annoyed because the path is no longer a straight shot, but I know I’m being really lazy when I say that. I can’t complain about how far Uncommons is when there are students that live in Abbot. Overall, the construction hasn’t affected me as much as I thought it would.” “Even when I toured students [during spring visits], explaining about the Commons renovation was not a big issue. Many new students were already informed, and they were very understanding,” said Brown. The trailers mainly serve as an office for the construction site, containing phones, computers, and other materials necessary to run the operation. Kim Sugerman ’08, resident of Day Hall, said, “The construction has not affected me at all, except that it’s ugly.” Many students are eager for the opening of Commons, but have also enjoyed the temporary UnCommons setup. “I actually really like UnCommons, because the atmosphere promotes school unity,” said Coppinger. “We expect to… deliver a transformed facility designed to serve the school in many wonderful ways in the years ahead,” said Williams.