Construction wraps up in Spencer after continuing into fall

Emily Bleiberg

Throughout the first weeks of the school year, continued construction in Brooks and Spencer Houses has caused disruptions to some students’ housing ar-rangements and schedules. One senior living in Spencer House, Grace Mabie ’19, remarked that “students were frustrated because the construction was loud and went on all day.” According to Mabie, construction began around 8 a.m. every morning. She described that her “pick group started to get frustrated because people weren’t sleeping, and we went to the housing department to talk about it.”

Mabie explained that within only one day of her group’s meeting with the design and construction team, they were notified in an email that the construction at Spencer would be stopped. Rita Coppola-Wallace, the College’s executive director of design and construction, confirmed that “Spencer is all finished at this point until next summer, when we complete the flat roofs.” This likely means that students living in Spencer will not experience any future disruptions this year. However, some individuals were still displaced temporarily while construction was ongoing. Mabie did not personally request any accommodations as the construction did not vastly impact her personal schedule, but one of her friends was in contact with the design and construction team and chose to sleep in a temporary room in the Dennett basement for one night.

Overall, through communication between the students most directly affected and the design and construction team, many of the issues that were most pressingly interfering with students’ schedules have been resolved. As Coppola-Wallace stressed, one of the most important aspects of her team’s work is remaining in constant communication with the student body throughout the process. Coppola-Wallace said that this is the key to creating the most mutually beneficial schedule and arrangement for both students and design and construction.

“Construction is difficult anywhere, but especially in an occupied dorm or an occupied building,” Coppola-Wallace said. She emphasized that her team is always quick to preemptively contact the Office of Student Life (OSL), giving them information on the logistics and timelines of projects so that students will be best equipped to predict and adapt to their impacts.

“In the case of Spencer, the first communication to OSL was in February 2017,” she said. Beyond initial contact with OSL, Coppola-Wallace stressed that her team is “very regularly and very early [in communication] with building occupants and neighbors” of any construction sight. More specifically for Spencer House, one of the project managers “reached out to prospective students as they were moving in to let them know of the construction and what would take place,” Coppola-Wallace said. “He personally met with many if not all of them. He told them of the scope of work and the noise they would hear. He was also in touch with them a number of times after his
initial communication.”