The University’s central plaza has a new, green look this fall, following construction over the summer months. The area in front of O’Neill Library has been regraded, and grass and trees have been planted to give campus additional green space in light of construction on the site of the former Dustbowl.
Work began on O’Neill Plaza immediately following the end of classes in the spring and continued throughout the summer, finishing on schedule before the start of fall classes.
According to a release by the Office of News and Public Affairs, “the new-look plaza is part of a series of related projects in the University’s Master Plan that will create an integrated combination of architecture and green space in the Middle Campus area.”
“[The plaza] looks terrific and credit goes to Dan Bourque [vice president for facilities management] for getting it done so beautifully and on time,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn.
Construction on Stokes Hall also continued on schedule throughout the summer, with a projected completion date in December. Recent progress includes permanent walkways and lighting around the edge of the construction site, as well as further work on the building’s masonry and the tiles on the roof.
The limestone work on the building’s exterior is slated for completion in October, followed by equipment and furnishings through the month of November. Landscaping and additional exterior work will also take place in November. The space between McElroy Hall and Stokes Hall, where mobile construction offices are currently placed, will be transformed into a grassy area with an amphitheater.
During the end of the fall semester in December, various departments will begin to move into Stokes Hall, and the building will officially be opened in January, according to University officials.
Stokes Hall will house offices for the theology, philosophy, and honors departments, as well as 36 new classrooms, the new Chocolate Bar, and lounge space for students to use between classes. The total square footage of the new building is 183,000, making it one of the largest buildings on campus.
In addition to construction on Stokes Hall, the University has invested in construction along College Road. The power lines that were previously strung above the road are being moved into the ground to provide a more aesthetic look along the road.
During construction in the fall, access from College Road to the back of McElroy will be open at 4 p.m. on weekdays and throughout weekends. A temporary stairway from the walkway will be accessible to students through October from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The University undertook various smaller construction projects throughout the summer, including the renovation of the stairs and walkway between Lyons Hall and Fulton Hall. In addition, some of the trees in the Quad were removed.
In Stuart Hall, Corcoran Commons, and McElroy Hall, the University oversaw the construction of new “minimarts,” through which BC Dining will sell prepackaged food and beverages for purchase with Dining Dollars.
The current Chocolate Bar has been removed, and will be moved to Stokes Hall and opened in January.
The University also modified the first floor of the O’Neill Library over the summer, removing shelves and adding extra booths and more seating for students working on group projects. Furthermore, the University supervised the installation of large group study rooms behind the information desk.