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Contact: Jo Procter, college news director; phone: (413) 597-4279; e-mail

Williams Renews its Campus & Facilities during Summer Break

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Aug. ?, 2006 — Workers followed quickly on the heels of departing students this summer, with crews launching into projects ranging from the major renovation of Morgan Hall to the resurfacing of the track at Weston Field.

Irene Addison, associate vice president for facilities and auxiliary services, said that the college spends roughly $10 million per year on renewal projects. This doesn’t count such capital projects as the new student center, where work has been ongoing.

The Paresky Center is designed as the college's first true student center. The $44 million, 75,000 square-foot facility will include meeting rooms, offices for student organizations and The Williams Record, a reading room, a flexible performance space, a pub, and a snack bar highly reminiscent of the beloved snack bar in Baxter Hall. The student mailboxes that became one of old Baxter’s focal points over the years also will return to the Paresky Center.

“We are working feverishly towards a late January opening,” said Williams Senior Project Manager Michael Briggs.

The open and transparent design of the new student center is the vision of Polshek Partnership Architects, New York City, which also designed the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark. The main contractor is Breadloaf Corp, Middlebury, Vt.

On the other side of Main Street from the rising Paresky Center, Morgan Hall underwent a complete $5.4 million renovation over the summer. Work started the day after students moved out in May. The interior of the building was almost completely gutted. Workers then installed all-new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems in the five-floor, 26,000 square-foot dormitory building, said Jason Moran, a Williams project manager.

New double-pane windows were installed in the existing window sashes. A central staircase was taken out and larger bathrooms installed. Horizontal access was increased, and students now will be able to walk from the east side of the building to the west side on every floor, not just in the basement and on the fourth floor as before, Moran said.

Barr & Barr, Inc., Williamstown and New York City, was the major contractor on Morgan Hall, which is changing from a first-year dormitory to an upper-class facility. Reflecting the greater dorm privileges of these students, a full kitchen was installed in the basement. There also is a new common room in the basement, and the 105 students housed in the dorm are getting new beds, dressers, and desks.

“I think people are going to look at it an be amazed on the work that was done in the short period of time,” Moran said.

Weston Field received $250,000 in upgrades over the summer, necessary to keep Williams in the game athletically. “The track was in such bad shape that we weren’t having any home meets here,” said Dave Fitzgerald, horticulturist and grounds supervisor.

Copeland Coating Co., Nassau, N.Y., sawed both sides of the track down to the concrete, though the track sub-base was preserved. The company applied a urethane sealer to keep out water. Then the company applied another type of urethane to fill in the many bumps and dips in the track. Finally, yet another urethane product provided a 5 mm finish on which crumb rubber was added for traction.

Clark Co., Delhi, N.Y., leveled off the hammer and discus throwing area on the northeast corner of Weston Field. This field had been bowl-shaped to such an extent that the NCAA would not recognize tournament-qualifying throws here. Such tosses were considered “downhill,” Fitzgerald said.

Other summer projects included the renovation of the softball field on lower Cole Field. New, larger common rooms were installed in Lehman, East College and Fayerweather; work continued on the underground utilities for the new student center and other projects; sprinklers were installed in Thompson residence hall and it was painted. Heating and electrical systems were replaced at Fort Hoosac, the graduate art history residence hall, and it also was painted.

Also, workers put in an accessible entrance on the south side of Clark Hall and rebuilt both the north and south stairs. Sidewalks around Griffin Hall and Thompson Memorial Chapel were reconfigured and replaced.

Stephen P. Klass began his new post as vice president for operations on August 1. He comes to Williams from the University of Chicago. He spoke of the necessity of having good relationships with contractors. The role of college employees — such as the ones quoted in this release — is key in building and maintaining these relationships.

“You have to rely on the relationships and the trust and the confidence you build by having the best people working for the college who know how to manage these things and can work closely with those people,” Klass said. Such college employees understand the needs of students, faculty, and staff — which is critical, he added.

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