Carr, North Main projects continue

Physical Plant predicts Carr Hall will be finished by summer 2012 and will be open for the beginning of next school year. CODY MILLER/THE CAMPUS

Over the summer, the renovation of Carr Hall and the redesign of the North Main Street entrance to campus held priority spots on the construction schedule.
The Carr Hall renovation, which began in May, is still partially in the planning stages, but Physical Plant Director Cliff Willis said much of the project is already underway.  Construction should be complete by summer 2012 and the building will be fully functional by next school year, Willis said.
The renovation will add additional classroom and laboratory space to the building.  The auditorium will be converted into classrooms.
The lobby will also be redesigned to provide better access to the departments in Carr Hall, said Physical Plant Assistant Director Brian Gillette.
“The design is going to try to accommodate [the three departments] by opening up that center stairwell,” Gillette said.  “Through signage and making the entryways to downstairs a little more open and prominent, we’ll be able to do that.”
Under the supervision of Massaro, the same contracting company that worked with the college on the Vukovich Center and North Village I and II, Willis said that renovation is going smoothly.
The corner of Loomis and North Main streets was also the subject of extensive construction throughout the summer.  606 Loomis St., the corner house, was purchased by the college in 2010, but renovation didn’t begin until this summer.  Larry Lee, Allegheny’s senior vice present of finance and planning, said that the college had two motivations for buying the house: improving aesthetics and providing housing.
“Our main motivation for that location was simply that it was arguably one of the worst-looking houses in the surrounding area, and it was across from the entry to campus,” said Lee.
The construction also focuses on making the Allegheny sign on the corner more attractive and prominent.  An additional foundation was added beneath the original structure, raising the sign to twice its original height.  Willis hopes that the landscaping and height increase will make the sign more noticeable.
“When you came up Main Street, you had to be aware of the sign,” Willis said.  “It was very easy to drive by it and not get much of an impact.”
“We see a lot of families taking pictures at the Gator Quad.  We wanted to create another opportunity for families and others to take pictures,” Lee said. “That’s why we’re building the plaza and the little blockade.”
Willis said that on top of beautification, the redesign of the sign will come as a relief for the Physical Plant.
“The landscaping was a real maintenance headache,” Willis said. “It was something that took a lot of time and effort on the part of my staff.”
Two more small projects are scheduled to begin this year.  605 Park Ave., the only other house purchased by the college last summer, is scheduled to undergo demolition before January.
“If you go by and look at 605, it’s in terrible condition,” Lee said. “[…] It would just cost too much money to try and save.”
The Physical Plant is also in the process of updating dorm furniture.  Edwards, Baldwin and Phi Psi all received new pieces over the summer.  Overall, the college still needs to replace 500 sets of furniture across campus, Willis said.
Throughout the year, college representatives will begin meeting to discuss additional construction projects, but Lee said there aren’t currently any future projects in the works.