Renovations to Chapin improve efficiency

Two campus construction projects, Chapin Hall renovations and the Stetson-Sawyer project, have seen marked improvement over the past few months. 

Chapin Hall
Construction on Chapin Hall sought to improve the building’s energy efficiency while maintaining its historic appearance. Photo by Sevonna Brown.

Construction on Chapin Hall recently came to an end, with the move-in process starting in early December, while the Stetson-Sawyer project is soon to be back on track after unanticipated work slowed construction during the end of the fall semester.

According to Steve Klass, vice president for Campus Life, the work done on Chapin Hall was focused on three main improvements: upgrading the audience experience, improving accessibility for patrons and students and installing sprinklers as a fire safety precaution. These steps served to upgrade the building and bring it up to current accessibility and fire code standards.

Both time constraints and historical integrity had to be considered during the course of construction on Chapin Hall. A condensed schedule had to be maintained in order to allow for pre-scheduled performances to carry on. With regards to preserving the building’s historical significance, improvements such as the accessibility ramp were made as discreet and non-invasive as possible.

Another improvement was the addition of the building’s quiet new HVAC systems, which are designed to bring more efficient airflow and temperature control to the auditorium. Interior storm windows were also installed for acoustic and thermal reasons, and the attic space was insulated in order to make the building more energy efficient. The mechanical rooms were redesigned to make way for new equipment and provide better sound distinction across Chapin Hall.

“Our architect did a wonderful job in developing a plan that not only preserved the original architectural details of this magnificent facility but also brought it into compliance with today’s standards and codes,” Klass said.

According to Bruce Decoteau, senior project manager, everything was installed and completed successfully throughout construction.

Another key construction site at the College is the Stetson-Sawyer project, the largest and most expensive project in the College’s history thus far. While construction remains in the early stages, eventual phases will include the renovation of the historic Stetson library, the construction of a new library and the demolition of the current Sawyer library. The space now occupied by Sawyer will be landscaped.

This new library will house the humanities and social sciences collections along with a newly-designed learning commons, the College archives and the Chapin Library of Rare Books, all of which have been temporarily relocated. The new space will also feature a 24-hour study space, various other study rooms, faculty offices, a performing space and a café.

The Center for Media Initiatives will also be housed in the building. According to its website, the program “will provide multiple levels of support from solving basic problems to complex multi-media production.” The center’s main goal will to be to increase the use of multimedia and technology across campus and classrooms.

The necessity of this new project was affirmed by President Falk, who insisted in an interview on EphTV that in this day and age, libraries are more important than ever.

“We did fall behind [the schedule],” Klass said, referring to difficulty in breaking up and removing a large quartzire ledge from the libary worksite late in the fall semester. “But we’re catching up, and by late spring we should be right back on track on our original calendar.

The Stetson-Sawyer library project is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.