The inside of Stokes Hall is beginning to take shape and the project remains on schedule, according to Project Manager Ed Stokes. Construction will be completed in October, the building will be ready for occupants in December, and it will open for classes at the beginning of the spring semester in January 2013.
Higher-than-normal temperatures and little snowfall during the winter allowed more rapid progress on the exterior of the building, which is now nearing completion. “The weather this past winter has helped us out a lot, but the first winter was very challenging,” Stokes said.
Most of the masonry and steel framing on the exterior has been completed, giving the building its final shape. Construction on the exterior walls was relatively unique, using a support system involving both steel-reinforced concrete masonry and steel framing.
“Most buildings, you can just put up the framing and then build the masonry around it, but the masonry on this building is load-bearing, so you have to put up the steel frame and the masonry hand in hand,” Stokes said.
Tiles to match nearby buildings Lyons Hall and Fulton Hall will start going down on the roof this week.
Inside the building, the layout of an academic building is beginning to appear. Although the steel framing that divides the 183,000 square foot building into different rooms has not yet been covered by sheetrock, classrooms, offices, and lounge space are clearly distinguishable.
The construction project, operated by the Walsh Brothers Construction company, began in October 2010. Upon its completion, Stokes Hall will be one of the largest academic buildings on campus, dwarfing the square footage of nearby Lyons and Fulton. Its two-wing structure will provide 36 new classrooms, numerous faculty offices for departments including the Honors Program, theology, and philosophy, as well as an Honors library and a coffee bar. The first floor will also host offices for the Office of First Year Experience and Academic Advising.
“We’ve been running at about 100 workers, Monday to Friday,” Stokes said.
Recently, workers have begun to install the elevators in each wing, as well as beginning to install sheetrock on the walls in the north wing.
The two wings of Stokes Hall will be connected by a two-story “link.” The first floor will be an open air archway, providing a pathway from College Road toward Middle Campus. The second floor, which will be enclosed in glass, will have lounge chairs and will be convenient during the winter months.
Stokes Hall is located atop the traditional site of the dustbowl, and many students have raised concerns over the past months about a lack of green space on campus. The construction project accounts for two areas of green space, the first being a large lawn between Stokes Hall and McElroy, on the site where mobile construction offices are currently located. The second space will be mainly grass between Stokes Hall and Fulton Hall.
As the project proceeds over the coming months, the building will look more and more completed from the outside. Final steps will include installing doors and millwork, which could be damaged if installed too early in construction.