Stetson construction begins

Construction on the Stetson-Sawyer project, launched in June,  has consisted largely of preparatory work for the long term. The work will continue until the ground freezes this winter. On Sept. 6, Larmon House Movers relocated Kellogg House to clear the way for work on the existing Stetson building; serious demolition of the 1962 additions to Stetson Hall commenced on Monday afternoon.

According to Dave Pilachowski, head librarian and co-chair of the Stetson-Sawyer project, and Bruce Decoteau, senior project manager, the new library building is still slated for completion in February 2014. After that point, the building will be tested for systems operations and furnished in time for the September 2014 opening. “We are exactly where we thought we would be at this time,” Decoteau said of the summer’s progress, which was curbed only slightly by higher asbestos levels in the building than anticipated.

Pilachowski explained that the bulk of the summer was spent preparing the site for future construction, and that the project will launch into high gear in the next few weeks. In addition to a careful dismantling and relocation of Kellogg House, construction crews have also dismantled Seeley House piece by piece.

Pilachowski said the cautious route the College took with those buildings is meant to keep open the possibility of receiving the Living Building Certification – an environmental certification that is more prestigious than the LEED certification that Hollander Hall and Schapiro Hall received.

Although Tropical Storm Irene caused significant flooding and damage in Williamstown and several surrounding areas, its effects did not disrupt campus construction. Kellogg House was on wheels at the bottom of a hill when Irene hit, but contractors dug diversionary ditches to protect the house in advance of the storm. “We had virtually no impact from the storm,” Pilachowski said. Crews also spent this summer constructing storm-water systems to divert water from future storms.

The existing Stetson building will receive roof repairs over the next few weeks so that work can safely continue; in the spring, the building will receive an entirely new roof. In terms of internal work, crews have been overlaying a softer padded staircase on top of the existing marble staircase and woodwork in Stetson to preserve those elements for the new building.

Moving forward, Pilachowski verified that some of the most noticeable construction will take place this fall, with 25 to 30 trucks pouring concrete between the end of September and early December. Crews will work on the outdoor site on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pilachowski explained that the 8 a.m. start time is later than most construction projects in order to accommodate student schedules.

Decoteau verified that the College has a Guaranteed Maximum Price contract with the construction management firm Consigli, and so the budget should not change. Sawyer Library will be in use through the 2013-2014 academic year.