Construction on Bennett Gymnasium, after a semester-long delay, will be finished by mid-February, and the Department of Engineering and Physics will move in throughout the remainder of the semester.
The project was delayed after the discovery of an original concrete structure 21 feet beneath the ground. Much like a jigsaw puzzle, the concrete required the construction workers and designers on the remodel to alter plans for new steel to support the building, said Kevin Roberts, vice president of operations, and Scot Colley, executive director of construction and risk management, who oversee all construction and plans that have gone into Bennett renovations.
To support the structure of the building, new construction required that 48 steel columns be put in the ground 28 feet deep.
“The way steel works is that you put your order in for steel six months ahead of when you need it,” Roberts said. “You get in line at the steel manufacturer and move forward in the line.”
When drilling began by the west wall of Bennett and the spread footer stood in the way, the columns had to be adjusted which changed the geometry of the rest of the structure.
“When we figured out we had to redo everything, that meant we had to go reengineer the whole thing and all the plans had to change,” Roberts said. “By the time the plans got done, we had lost our place in line at the steel company.”
The plans now indicate that on Feb. 10, Bennett Gym will receive a Certificate of Occupancy from the city that declares the building and structure is safe and complies with city laws and codes.
“It’s like when you move into a house and you still have to unpack your dishes and put your couches up,” Roberts said. “So on the 10th, we should be able to move in. That doesn’t mean we’ll start teaching classes, but we can move in.”
While the end date to receive the Certificate of Occupancy is exciting for staff and students, the construction crew has been, and will continue, to be hard at work six days a week.
“The three big things are the concrete, the elevator and the crane inside,” Colley said. “None of those take a lot of time. Like the crane in here, for instance, that’s going to be here tomorrow, but no one else can be down there when it comes in.”