Construction manager sought for library project

Following President Falk’s Oct. 18 announcement that construction on the new Sawyer Library will commence this spring, the College is now preparing to hire a construction manager for the building project, which is the final leg of a multi-phase construction project at the College. The construction manager will be charged with the responsibility of assuring that the College’s detailed plans for the new library are carried out.

According to Steve Klass, vice president for operations, the construction manager for the Hollander and Schapiro building project, Barr & Barr Builders, Inc., completed the project “on time and on budget.” While the College is open to hiring a new firm, Klass said that administrators hope Barr & Barr will bid on the current project.

The first steps of hiring a construction manager, who will oversee the hiring and supervision of all subcontractors once the project is underway, include sending out a request for qualifications (RFQ) to a number of viable construction managers and designing the construction manager’s contract with the College’s legal consultants. Klass said these two processes can occur in parallel.

The RFQ will be designed to give possible construction manager candidates an idea of the project’s scale and what the College expects by the time of completion. The RFQ will also call for certain information from the construction manager, such as the history of the company, information regarding the people who would be working directly with the College and what kind of work the company has done in the past.

“Eligible [construction managers] will have to prove that they are bondable,” Klass said. “This ensures that they have the resources to be here for the long haul throughout this extended project. It protects the College from any economic contingencies.”

As for the contract, “it spells out everything in our relationship [with the construction manager],” Klass said. “The more you spell out now, will reduce the opportunities to have issues [later in the process]. We want to have as much control and create the best possible relationship with the construction manager.”

Once the College’s project committee compiles a short list of construction managers, it will present them a request for proposal (RFP) that will include design and contract details. According to Klass, the RFP will ensure an open flow of information between the College and the construction manager.

Klass had a positive outlook about beginning the construction project this spring, saying that the College is able to “launch the project during a period of excellent construction market pricing in terms of both labor and materials.” The library project, which is the last installment in the larger Stetson-Sawyer building project that includes Hollander and Schapiro Halls, was set to begin in the fall of 2008, but was postponed due to the unfavorable economic climate. According to Klass, the College has viewed the Stetson-Sawyer project as a multi-phase operation and not one continuous venture.

“We developed the various pieces as discrete project phases in order to ensure that we were relatively protected from potentially volatile financial markets, a strategy which really paid off for us,” Klass said. “The global economic crisis hit just as we ended the Schapiro-Hollander phase and were preparing for the library construction/renovation stage.”

The library construction and renovation project will include demolishing Seeley House, relocating and renovating Kellogg House, removing the Roper additions on the back of Stetson, renovating Stetson Hall’s interior, building the new library and Center for Media Initiatives on the back of Stetson, demolishing the old Sawyer Library and landscaping the site of the former library.

Dave Pilachowski, College librarian and co-chair of the library project committee, noted that the new library will provide a much needed change from the outdated Sawyer Library.

“Among the problems with the current Sawyer are an entrance that does not meet accessibility codes [and] book stacks that are both too narrow for comfort [and] that do not meet code,” Pilachowski said. He also cited “light wells [that] disrupt and complicate the arrangement of the collection,” a “soon-to-be obsolete roof and mechanical systems” and “a design that on the inside hides the beauty of the campus” as reasons for a new and improved library.

“Construction and renovation of current Sawyer would have required four years to complete; during that time, half of the building would have been under construction, and half would have continued to have served as the main College library,” Pilachowski added. “Those logistics alone argued strongly for another solution to our library needs.” Besides adapting to evolving library needs, the College will also take its own mission of achieving sustainability into account.

“There has been a great deal of work done to make the building as sustainable as possible,” Pilachowski said. Sustainable design elements include day lighting, motion controlled lighting designed to minimize energy use, high-quality glazing to ensure efficiency and solar screening on the south side of the building to reduce heat and air-conditioning needs.

“We used the two-year hiatus to ensure, in great detail, that we’ve designed the most sustainable, affordable, constructible, flexible possible building that will endure as a central academic resource on campus for the next century,” Klass said.