UR under construction: Rush Rhees floods as repair efforts block IT Center

Miriam Frost, Staff Photographer

The construction that has become a ubiquitous part of life on the River Campus continued at a breakneck pace this summer, with several new highly anticipated projects finishing and other long-term ones commencing.

But on Tuesday, Sept. 4 about four inches of water flooded the B-level stacks of Rush Rhees Library. According to Assistant Director of Facilities and Operations Barry McHugh, the water came up through a storm drain that is under construction, but the cause of the flooding is still under investigation and has not yet been fully determined. McHugh was also reticent to attribute the flooding to the construction that will be blocking the IT Center entrance until October.

“We don’t know the full extent of the damage because we’re still cleaning it up,” McHugh said. “There will be some minor damage to some books, but for the most part damage was avoided.”

Only about 30 books are currently being dried out, he added, and the B-level stacks should reopen within a few days.

UR Security Investigator Daniel Lafferty said that estimates for the damage could be in the thousands of dollars.
Library Assistant Solomon Blaylock said that “things got pretty crazy” as water was “pouring in.”

“I haven’t seen anything on this scale since I’ve been here,” he noted.

Everyone followed procedures set in place for such situations and responded according to protocol, Blaylock said, concurring that extensive damage had for the most part been avoided.

The construction currently in front of the IT Center is a waterproofing project that will fix a leakage problem in the part of Rush Rhees Library extending underground. According to Executive Director for Campus Planning, Design and Construction Management Jose Fernandez, the paving above the underground portion will also be repaired because it had to be removed for the project. Buses will be able to resume their normal routine of picking up people in front of the IT Center at the start of October.

Fernandez stressed the necessity of the project, despite the fact that many students complain about the inconvenience, emphasizing that they are trying to expedite the process as much as possible.

“The construction area that has inconvenienced me the most is the one by ITS because it takes me substantially longer to walk all the way around Rush Rhees to catch a bus going to the 19th Ward,” junior Arthur Dashan, who added that he would have liked a heads up about construction before returning to campus this year, said.

Sophomore Caroline Warren also agreed that the construction has been an inconvenience.

“It’s definitely been a noticeable inconvenience in my day-to-day [life], mostly the construction being done to the back of the library,” she said. “That strip was what easily connected Phase and [Susan B. Anthony Residence Halls] to the academic quad, plus getting into the [Rush Rhees Library/Gleason Library/the IT Center] is more frustrating as well. And overall I think they’re just doing a lot of unnecessary stuff to the campus and taking on more than they realized.”

Warren also said that while she thinks the idea of the new digital media building is a good one and that it is an “exciting department to expand on,” that it is “literally ridiculous to cram so many buildings into a small place.”

“It’s wildly detrimental and poorly thought out,” she said.
She added that students should have been notified more in advance so they would have been aware that construction would be continuing when they got back to campus.

“I came back to campus in late July and assumed all the construction would be done by the time classes started simply because I didn’t think our school would suffer the effects of leaving the campus in disrepair during the school year and when prospective students are touring,” she said.

The construction on the highly anticipated Ronald Rettner Hall for Media Arts and Innovation began last week. The new three-story, 18,900-square-foot building will house an engineering fabrication lab, sound and video recording studios, a multipurpose learning studio, group study areas and exhibit space. It will also house the new major in digital media studies. Because of this construction, access to the entrance of the tunnel between the sphinxes and the connection of Morey and Lattimore halls will be closed until the new building opens in August 2013. Students will be able to access the tunnel through the second floor corridors of Morey and underneath the Eastman Quadrangle during construction. The west corner of Morey will also be extensively renovated beginning in February 2013.

According to Fernandez, construction on Raymond F. LeChase Hall is slated to be completed on schedule, with the first classes commencing in spring 2013.

Despite all these projects and more — including the extensive renovations to the courtyard near the new O’Brien Hall, improvements to athletic fields and a new parking lot near Southside Living Area — Fernandez said that this amount of construction does not deviate too far from the norm.

“It has been a busy summer, a little more than usual, but the summers are always a busy time for us,” he said.

Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.



You can contact Leah at leah.buletti@rochester.edu.

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