While campus may have been void of students this summer, facilities staff were showing up consistently to complete various projects and address different issues on campus. Following a three month break, students may notice some changes to the University underway or already completed. 

According to Director of Capital Programs Michael McGary, the projects include a complete renovation of the Brown Social Science building, including a new roof and windows, updated common areas, new restrooms, an elevator, and a connector to the Schwartz mezzanine. Projects also include a new elevator in Lown; an outdoor gathering space in Ridgewood plaza in honor of Barbara Barth Feldman ’86; sitework for a steam plant generator and underground steam repairs; upgrades to service points in the library; new kitchens and bathrooms in three Foster Mods units, which is planned to continue over the next five years; and a student lounge in Gosman Sports and Convocation Center in the space of the former snack bar. 

The goal in completing these projects is to fix problems “while at the same time enhancing features of buildings and improving their functionality,” McGarry said in an Aug. 26 email to the Justice. Students generally do not have the ability to voice their opinions on what should be addressed partly because “Campus Operations prioritizes projects primarily based on building conditions and operational needs,” McGarry said. Additionally, “we very consciously focus our resources toward addressing deferred maintenance,” he added.  

McGarry used the example of the renovations to Brown to demonstrate how the project addresses multiple issues while also upgrading the buildings in other ways. The renovation was driven by a need to replace the heating and cooling system, and in doing so, they “were also able to replace drinking fountains that were a source of concern based on their lead-containing components,” according to McGarry, which was of major concern to students last year. Furthermore, both the Brown and Schwartz buildings will be made fully accessible during the project. 

McGary explained that he is most excited about the Brown project, which “will transform a tired building into something that will feel fresh and new and better suited for learning,” he said. “The finished product will have so many positive benefits and bring it up to the standard of the adjacent Schwartz and Lemberg buildings.” 

Besides the current listed projects, facilities staff has been busy replacing water fountains throughout campus. Additionally, “a housing program study is now underway that will map out renovations, removal, and new construction of residence halls for the next 20 years,” McGarry explained. Improving student housing is one of the goals of the Framework for the Future, which university President Ron Liebowitz announced last year. Some of the eventual upgrades include making residence halls accessible and adding air conditioning, according to McGarry. 

While students may have to wait for more ideal living accommodations, they can start to take advantage of the new enhancements to the University made over the summer.