Facilities projects slow down after a busy summer
While students were away for the summer, campus still was filled with noise and activity — mainly the loud clang of construction equipment. Many renovations and innovations were orchestrated over the break by the university’s Facilities department.
Peter Krawchyk, interim vice president of Facilities, Real Estate, and Auxiliary Services and the university architect, managed a major repair job for the department — fixing a leak in the steam lines in the utility tunnel that connects Christiana East Tower to the Christiana Commons.
“[The tunnel] was almost fifty years old, so we just did a lot of repairs,” Krawchyk said. “It was in poor condition, but it didn’t collapse.”
The repairs were finished the Friday before move-in weekend. While the adjacent tunnel connecting Christiana Commons to Christiana West Tower was not leaking, it is next on Facilities’ list of repairs. The tunnels were created at the same time, so Facilities wants to ensure its stability as well, Krawchyk said.
The work on Laird Campus wasn’t exclusively repairs, either. The parking and fire lanes around Christiana Towers also received an update just in time for the thousands and students and parents during move-in.
“Any work we do up there usually only happens in the summers,” Krawchyk said, citing the sheer number of students that need to use the amenities of Laird Campus during the academic year.
Facilities had the university’s landscaping planner, Sue Wyndham, do groundwork and landscaping around the Towers. She oversaw the installation of new pavers, plantings, bike racks and site amenities, Wyndham said.
In terms of future plans, Facilities always has something in the works. Starting in September or October, the department will be creating a new courtyard of plantings in front of Perkins Student Center.
More plantings will be added in the spring, Krawchyk said. Wyndham is also responsible for the “planting and concept plans” for the Perkins work, Wyndham said.
Also, a new residence hall is currently in the works on South Academy Street. Still unnamed, construction should be completed by next August, Krawchyk said.
“It will have a name, but the powers that be haven’t decided what to name it yet,” Krawchyk said.
Starting in January, a final Facilities project will be renovations in the Russell Dining Hall on East Campus. They will be adding different types of cooking equipment, like pizza ovens, and updating it to be more like the Caesar Rodney Dining Hall.
Kent Dining Hall, which closed after spring 2015, will be temporarily reopened until the renovations are completed in Aug. 2017.
“We wanted to make certain all the dining halls are utilized the same way, rather than everyone going to one,” Krawchyk said.
However, Pencader Dining Hall likely will not be updated for awhile. Krawchyk said it is too difficult to work on Pencader because so many students rely on it on Laird Campus.
“This is sort of a lull in terms of building,” Krawchyk said. “With the new president on board, we have to find out what’re his goals.”
Michelle Bennett, the university’s sustainability manager, said other than light construction and repairs around campus, no huge projects are in the works.
“It takes years to get construction projects to the phase where big machines and tools get to come out,” Bennett said in an email message. “The longer I’m with UD and the more I learn about our awesome campus, the deeper my involvement will be.”