Carnegie Mellon University

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June 01, 2011

Residence on Fifth Tops Summer Construction Projects

By Bruce Gerson

At Carnegie Mellon, the sights and sounds of summer aren’t all sunshine, blue sky, flowers and songbirds. On the Pittsburgh campus it always includes construction workers, heavy-duty equipment, pounding hammers, buzzing power tools and … lately rain.

More than a dozen renovation projects are on the docket this summer with phase II of the Residence on Fifth at 4700 Fifth Ave. — at the corner of Neville Street and Fifth — leading the way.

“That’s our major project this summer,” said Ralph Horgan, associate vice provost for Campus Design and Facility Development (CDFD), who noted that some of the scheduled exterior jobs may be affected by the amount of rain in the summer forecast.

CMU purchased the property in May 2010 and last summer quickly converted the senior housing facility into 31 apartments for 93 students last fall.  Each apartment houses three students and is equipped with its own kitchen and bathroom.

Horgan said since the initial renovation, the university’s application to re-zone the property was successful. Reclassifying the facility from a high-density district to a very-high density district allows Carnegie Mellon to create 20 more apartments to house an additional 60 students in the residence hall. Phase II of the project is estimated at $1.4 million.

Horgan said students loved the new living space and Housing Director Kim Abel agreed.

“The response from students was overwhelmingly positive. It proved to be a dynamic and engaging environment for students. They loved living there and were great neighbors to the nearby residents,” Abel said.

Minor work also will be completed at the Roselawn Terrace residence halls.  Last summer, the dozen row houses were renovated with new kitchens,
bathrooms and heating systems. Each row house, which includes laundry facilities, houses five students.

In addition to the residence hall projects, CDFD will be collaborating with Facilities Management Services to replace the steam line from Warner Hall to residence halls north of Forbes Avenue. Work is expected to be completed Aug. 2. Hot water will not be affected in these buildings due to back-up gas-fired hot water heaters.

Several renovations to classrooms, labs, computer clusters and office spaces will take place. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Materials science and engineering graduate student lounge and project space on the fourth floor of Wean Hall;
  • Mechanical engineering offices on the fourth floor of Scaife Hall;
  • Mechanical engineering computer cluster on the C-level in Hamerschlag Hall;
  • The Heinz College dean’s conference room and a distance learning classroom on the second floor of Hamburg Hall;
  • Physics Professor Sara Majetich’s lab in Wean Hall 3712;
  • Electrical and computer engineering offices in the 1100 and 1300 corridor of Hamerschlag Hall;
  • Computing Services’ computer cluster in 5202 and 5204 Wean Hall;
  • New bleachers in Skibo Gym;
  • Classrooms in Doherty Hall 1112 and 2210;
  • A new community gathering area, meeting spaces and computer lab renovations for the Human-Computer Interaction Institute on the third-floor of Newell-Simon Hall;
  • A new room containing a sophisticated “3-D Immersive Visualization Cave” (a large three-sided video display) for the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department on the Porter Hall A Level.

Horgan noted that CDFD is planning to start an 18-month, $3  million project to restore the façade of Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall (MMCH) facing the tennis courts.

“The building’s 100 years old. There’s water damage, rusting steel  and broken terra cotta,” he said.

Horgan said while work is in  progress, the Children’s School  playground will be temporarily  relocated to a portion of the green  space east of MMCH.