By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Staff Writer
Unique buildings pose unique challenges. This certainly applies to Maytum Hall on the SUNY Fredonia campus.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Pictured is SUNY Fredonia Capital Project Manager Paul Agle pointing out the new heating and cooling system pipes on the ground floor of Maytum Hall, one of the original problems in the building that spurred the lengthy project.
The building, originally built in 1963, was designed by the famous architect I.M. Pei.
According to Director of Facilities Planning Markus Kessler and Capital Project Manager Paul Agle, the building was vacated by the administrative staff that were housed there in the summer of 2009 for mechanical system improvements.
However, after the initial work it was decided it made sense to do further upgrades before staff moved back in.
"At first we thought it would just be a fix up and paint, but these things grow sometimes and it didn't make any sense to just do a minor fix up. The building is empty, it made more sense to look at it now and see what we can really do to the building," Kessler explained.
He said as scope of the project developed code issues came into play which forced upgrades like the sprinkler system and ventilation requirements that weren't being met before and would not be addressed in a minor fix up.
"It makes more sense because it is one of the tallest buildings in Chautauqua County. It gave us an opportunity to do those things," he said.
Phase II of the Maytum Hall project includes system upgrades like sprinklers, ventilation and fire alarms as well as renovating the interior to better suit the needs of the staff now.
"A lot of the renovations you see upstairs, the drywall and everything, a lot of that was driven by the space usage. A lot of the needs have changed over the years and the way it was laid out when the building was constructed was no longer conducive to the way it is being used now," Agle explained.
As with many projects other issues cropped up as it goes along. During Phase II, once the drywall came down, they noticed a problem with the flashing of windows which could not just be repaired and needed replacement. This became Phase III and is currently in the bidding process. The project was originally a $2 million and since 2009 has jumped to a $6 million project.
"It is always easy to construct new; you never have any surprises or unforeseen conditions. But with an existing building there are always those surprises, those unforeseen conditions and there are times when you haven't opened up the wall yet and voila then you have something you didn't expect. Now a decision has to be made If we see something that may last another 10 years, but then in 10 years someone has to deal with it. Why pass it on for somebody else to take care of and then whoever is in that space inconvenience them? They are going to say 'why didn't they deal with it back then when everything was open?' we are trying to keep ahead of those things," Kessler said.
Agle explained that with such a unique building, they have run into many "unforeseen conditions" which have been very labor intensive.
For example, the 14-16 inch concrete and steel rebar walls, which had to be drilled through for the sprinkler system pipe. Also the curve of the building posed a problem as the pipes for the sprinklers and ventilation are straight and the building is not. The contractor had to cut all straight piping and connect to special joints to accommodate the 11 degree curve.
"One of the points of pride on this campus is we have a beautiful campus. It's one of the things students and parents tell us year after year. They get here and there is a certain vibe they pick up on as soon as they step foot on it and part of that is our distinctive architecture. One of the tradeoffs with that however is it's not cookie cutter so you get some unique challenges when you are trying to do maintenance on buildings such as this," Public Relations Director Michael Barone added.
Kessler said that they like to have a flexible schedule to get as much done while the building is empty but the hopeful completion is this fall.
However, due to only receiving one bid for the phase III window project, due to time frame constrains, the project must be rebid and the building will not be ready for the start of the semester, but will have to wait until fall break.
This is also tentative due to another construction project at Williams Center. Part of it is because the modular units in Dods Hall parking lot are only rented for so long and Williams Center is a more important place for students.
"When you're making a decision like that, do we move people back in here or do we get the Williams Center up and running. Well the Williams Center is really a student hub and when you have those kinds of conversations you have to go back to what is the philosophy of this institution and that's students come first. That really affects the social vibe of the campus. It really is the hub of cultural activity, of social activity, that's where people make friends," Barone said. "All of the groups that are usually here, it's business as usual for all of them. We have found spaces for all of them to work."
A majority of the vacated administrative workers are located at a facility on Ring Road as well as Reed Library and Gregory Hall.
For a construction update go to the SUNY Fredonia website at www.fredonia.edu.
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