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Despite supply and labor shortages, construction stays on track

September 3, 2021

Reuben Schafir
COMING SOON: The construction of the Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies and Mills Hall is one of the final projects laid out by the College’s 2017 Master Plan.

In line with its 2017 Master Planning Update, the College is on track to complete both the Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies and Mills Hall by late 2022. This is despite labor shortages, supply shortages and slowed material supply chains across the country.

The College also expects to demolish Dudley Coe in late 2024, as soon as the renovations on Sills Hall are complete. This willcomplete the 2017 Master Plan’s goal of creating more “long walks” by visually connecting the Roux Center to the rest of campus.

The current project consists of a new parking l new space for the Arctic Museum, its staff and their collection at the Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies and Mills Hall, which will provide new office spaces for both the Anthropology Department and Digital and Computational Studies Program.

“We have all the building foundations in place. The Gibbons Center for Arctic Studies has the first floor slab in place, and if you look in the yard, you can see that there are stacks and stacks of wood timber,” Director of Capital Projects John Simoneau said in a phone interview with the Orient. “We hope to start … erecting the Gibbons building early next week, and while they’re working on erecting that wood frame, they’ll be finishing the [floor] slabs on Mills Hall.”

However, heightened labor and supply shortages are making this project more logistically challenging than usual.

“As a team, we have to prioritize what we need when and make sure we’re managing all the schedule risk for products that [have extended lead times],” Simoneau said. “It’s a management piece for the contractor, and we’re just putting all the resources we need in place—adjusting our plans as we need to, adjusting the sequences and adjusting how we break out the work based on when the products arrive at the site.”

This project will be one of the final major components of the College’s 2017 Campus Master Plan. In the plan, the College outlined medium-term goals in order to structure the expansion of campus between 2017 and 2025. Some of these goals were the construction of the Roux Center for the Environment, Park Row and Harpswell Apartments and the current construction project.

“We have [stayed] very close to the medium-term plan. There have been some pieces that will take a bit longer, like the decommissioning of Pine Street Apartments, but overall, we have stayed on track,” Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Matt Orlando wrote in an email to the Orient.

Other parts of the plan highlight how the College will shift the center of campus away from the Main Quad toward College Street. The plan also emphasizes the need for long, clear, unobstructed walks in making campus feel more connected.

“Most of the new square footage on campus over the last two decades has been located south of College Street (Watson Arena, Roux Center, Osher, Stowe and West Halls, Edwards Center [for Art and Dance]). More students than ever are making their way across College Street on a daily basis,” Orlando wrote.

Part of this update includes expanding sightlines from the older, more central parts of campus to the newer ones. With this in mind, Dudley Coe will be torn down in late 2024. All of the offices that it currently contains will be moved to new buildings, and WBOR, currently located in the basement, will have to find a new home.

With the College set to complete the current Campus Master Plan as scheduled, a new General Campus Plan is set to be released in late 2024.

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