Q&A

Overview | Academic Spaces | Sustainability | Parking | Swarthmore Friends Meeting | Additional Questions

Overview

Why is Swarthmore embarking on the BEP Project?

Enrollments in biology, engineering, and psychology have increased significantly in recent years and are projected to continue to rise. The three departments have each outgrown their space, respectively, in Martin Biological Laboratory, Hicks Hall, and Papazian Hall. Despite periodic capital investments in the existing buildings, all three departments need new space to meet their curricular needs and the research interests of the faculty.

In addition to providing expanded, modern space for biology, engineering, and psychology, the BEP building – planned as a model for environmentally intelligent construction practices — will support the campus community by strengthening interdisciplinary connections between academic departments across the curriculum through the addition of flexible classrooms, additional indoor and outdoor common space, and enhanced pedagogical experiences linked to environmental sustainability.

When will construction start?  When will it be complete?

Construction of the BEP project will begin in June, 2017. The BEP building will be completed in two phases. The first phase will be complete in Summer 2019 and the second phase will be complete in Summer 2020. 

What construction will take place in Summer 2017?

Whittier Place will be widened adjacent to the building site and a new loop road will be constructed in front of the Swarthmore Friends Meetinghouse. This construction will begin after the Nursery Day School closes for the summer and will be complete before school resumes in early September. With the completion of this roadwork, traffic to and from the meetinghouse and school will be separated from College operations and can continue throughout the construction of the BEP building. In addition, the garden level of Pearson Hall will be renovated, Papazian Hall will be demolished, and excavation for the new building will begin. The driveway in front of Kyle House will be widened to serve as a second entrance for construction vehicles.

Academic Spaces

What’s involved in demolishing Papazian and Hicks Halls? 

The sequence for demolition includes architectural salvage, removal of any hazardous materials, deconstruction of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and finally deconstruction of the building structure. The buildings will be demolished using mechanical equipment, not a wrecking ball or wrecking crane. Debris from the demolition will be piled inside the building footprint and then removed from the site. 

Some of the stone from Papazian Hall will be salvaged and repurposed for site features in the Nason Garden. The exterior stone from Hicks Hall will be saved and stockpiled for future reuse. Papazian Hall will be demolished in Summer 2017 and Hicks Hall will be demolished in Summer 2019.

What will happen to the departments presently housed in Papazian Hall and Hicks Hall?

Papazian Hall houses the Philosophy and Psychology Departments and some shops and storage space for the Engineering Department. In May, the Psychology Department and engineering shops will move to the newly completed Whittier Hall, behind the Lang Center on Whittier Place. Some engineering equipment will be placed in storage. The Philosophy Department will have a limited on-campus presence in Clothier during the summer, and will move into a newly renovated suite on the second floor of Beardsley Hall in August 2017.

Hicks Hall is completely occupied by the Engineering Department, and the department will continue to function in this location until it moves into the BEP building in Summer 2019. After engineering vacates the building, Hicks will be demolished and replaced by the second phase of the BEP building. 

What will happen to the murals in Hicks Hall?

James Egleson '29 painted the frescoes – murals on the wall surface — in 1938 and said they are meant “depict conditions and concepts out of the life of our times in America.” We are working with a conservator and a structural engineer to develop a plan for their removal and for their continued conservation. The Old Tarble drawing studio has been identified as the site for their eventual placement, and discussions are currently ongoing about their final location. If there are small portions of the murals which are not able to move (due to existing damage or size), they will be retained as samples for teaching and close study by students.

How is the BEP project related to the new academic building behind the Lang Center on Whittier Place?
The new building, Whittier Hall, will serve as a temporary home for the Psychology Department and a portion of the Engineering Department, which must vacate Papazian Hall. When the BEP project is completed, Whittier Hall will be repurposed to provide studio and seminar space for the Art Department.
What impact is expected on classes and events at the College?

No changes are planned to classes and events. Classes will continue to be scheduled in nearby buildings and dates for events have not changed. Measures will be taken to minimize the impact of noise, vibration, dust, and disruption, including careful scheduling of impactful activities on off-hours and coordinating with events staff across the College to assure that the construction team has a full understanding of the potential impacts so options to minimize disruption can be explored whenever possible. Monthly, bi-weekly, and, at times, daily updates will be issued to the community. Please direct questions and concerns to bep@swarthmore.edu.

Sustainability

How does the BEP project reflect the College’s commitment to environmental sustainability? 
In 2014, the Board of Managers committed up to $12 million to make BEP a model for environmentally intelligent construction practices. The project incorporates high-performance systems for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, including chilled beams for ventilation in lab spaces and radiant flooring in the Commons. Stormwater management features include a cistern to collect rainwater from the roof, below-grade infiltration and retention beds, and a landscape design which emphasizes native species and regional plant typologies. The building’s exterior is designed to reduce heat from the sun on the south façade and to take advantage of natural light on the west, north, and east facades, maximizing the amount of light brought into the building.

Environmentally-responsible material selections for the building and its interior include natural, minimally-processed, recycled, and recyclable materials. A construction waste management program will maximize diversion of construction materials from the waste material generated by the project.

How have the sustainability plans for the heating system evolved?
The heating system for the BEP building has been under review as the result of a strategic review of our campus-wide heating system infrastructure.  Key findings of the study were shared with the Property Committee of the Board of Managers, and we are moving forward with a hot-water system for BEP in lieu of the ground source heat pump system (geothermal system) originally designed. The hot-water system, which will be expanded over time to completely replace the existing steam system, offers higher energy-efficiency and a lower carbon impact than the original design. The schedule for design and construction of the hot-water system will be integrated with the schedule for construction of the BEP project.
How will the building and the landscape support the College’s pedagogical goals?

Metering of the building’s energy and water systems will allow real-time monitoring and data visualization as a tool for learning. Groundwater probe locations will allow periodic assessment of the aquifer to support understanding of the impact of stormwater management systems. 

Informational signs in the gardens around the building will provide information about the four regional typologies represented in the landscape design. A landscape feature utilizing stumps and root systems from trees removed from the site will provide for a hands-on educational experience about the structure of trees.

How was the configuration of the BEP building determined?

The configuration of the BEP building was influenced by several factors, including programmatic adjacency, mechanical and plumbing infrastructure, a desire to minimize the footprint of the building, service and pedestrian access, the architectural context of the surrounding buildings, and the goal of minimizing the need for temporary space to house departments displaced by construction. The resulting design successfully addresses these goals.  While this plan is optimal for these reasons, several mature trees needed to be removed.

How is the loss of dedicated trees at the BEP site being addressed?

Planting trees in honor of people and special events has a long and rich tradition at Swarthmore College and the Scott Arboretum. The trees that were slated for removal to prepare the BEP site for construction included 12 dedicated trees, many of which were planted to honor longtime members of the College community, including alumni. One of those trees is a strong candidate for transplantation elsewhere on campus. Family members and donors of the other dedicated trees will have the option of rededicating an existing tree on campus or to dedicate a new tree planned for the site closer to the project's completion in 2020.

Parking

What is the impact on parking for faculty, staff, and students?

The new Cunningham Fields South parking lot will open in late April 2017 and student parking will be consolidated from seven locations and reassigned to the new lot. (The parking lot at Mary Lyon 4 Residence Hall will continue to be reserved for students.)  Because student parking will be relocated before the start of construction, there will be no construction impact on student parking.

Faculty and staff parking on the north campus will be decreased when the Hicks parking lot and parking on the Papazian loop road is closed permanently in early June 2017. However, additional parking will be available in seven locations across campus as a result of the relocation of student parking. When the BEP project is complete, contractor-designated parking in the DuPont lot will revert to faculty and staff use.

What is the impact on visitor parking? Accessible parking?

Visitor parking in the Whittier parking lot is unaffected. Visitor parking for the Psychology Department’s Child Development Laboratory will be relocated to the Whittier parking lot when Psychology moves to Whittier Hall in May 2017.

Accessible parking on the Papazian Loop will be lost when the road is closed in early June 2017.  New accessible parking will be available when the Meetinghouse Loop opens in late August 2017.

Where will the construction contractors park their vehicles?
Construction parking on campus will be limited to designated spaces in the DuPont parking lot, which will be reserved for management staff and shuttle buses. Most construction workers will park remotely at the Springfield Mall and shuttle vehicles will transport the workers to campus at the beginning and end of their shifts, typically 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. There will be congestion on Whittier Place at these times of the day, as the number of workers will require several shuttles. Contractors will be prohibited from parking on Elm Avenue in the vicinity of Whittier Place, as the full width of the street will be needed for the turning radius of large tractor-trailers.

Contractors will have food service and portable restrooms within the construction area.

Swarthmore Friends Meeting

How will construction affect access to Swarthmore Friends Meeting and to the campus?
Whittier Place will continue to be an important entry point to campus for drivers and pedestrians. A new crosswalk at the intersection of Elm Avenue and Whittier Place, and a new sidewalk on the south side of Whittier Place, will provide pedestrian access to the campus and Swarthmore Friends Meeting. 
How will Swarthmore Friends Meeting be affected and what is being done to minimize the impact of the project?
The project team has held several meetings with the Swarthmore Friends Meeting administrators, including administrative staff of the Nursery Day School. Close communication and coordination are planned for summer 2017, when Whittier Place will be widened to provide a dedicated turning lane, and a new loop road will be constructed to provide access for pick-up and drop-off for the Meeting and nursery school. Completion of this work during the earliest stage of BEP construction will allow traffic to and from the meetinghouse to continue throughout the rest of construction.

The construction team is sensitive to the potential safety and traffic issues associated with the Meeting and nursery school. An 8’ high chain-link fence will separate construction activities from Meeting and nursery school operations.

The BEP project includes improvements in traffic/parking and building infrastructure for Swarthmore Friends Meeting. Ten parking spaces in the center of the new loop road will be assigned to the Meeting, providing staff/visitor parking closer to the building than the existing parking in the Whittier Lot. Separate projects funded by the College will upgrade the heating systems in both the meetinghouse and Whittier House, and central air conditioning will be installed in the main meeting room of the meetinghouse.

Additional Questions

What steps are being taken to limit the effect of construction on an event I am planning, or one I am planning to attend?
The project team will publish regular updates to the community throughout the construction process. For more information, or if you have a detailed question, please contact the BEP team by writing to bep@swarthmore.edu.
What is the status of Kyle House?
Kyle House will be taken out of service as a student residence for the duration of the BEP project. The student beds lost will be offset by additional beds added when PPR Apartments opens in August 2017.  Kyle House will serve as a field office for Skanska, the firm managing construction of the BEP project, through summer 2020. At that time, Kyle House will be restored as a student residence.

During construction of the BEP project, the driveway in front of Kyle House will be widened to serve as a construction vehicle entrance. This temporary entrance, in addition to the North Entrance on Whittier Place, is required due to the combination of union-affiliated and merit-shop contractors working on the BEP project. At the conclusion of the project, the driveway will be restored to its prior narrower width.

What measures are planned to limit the impact of noise and dust?
Mitigation measures include scheduling of major noise-producing activities at times when they would be least disruptive and using sprayed water and dampening materials to limit dust creation. Dusty materials from demolition activities will be removed from the site promptly. The construction fence will be covered with windscreen fabric to help control blowing and drifting dust. Regular street cleaning on Whittier Place will help control dust, dirt, and mud from construction vehicles.
What measures will be implemented to minimize disruption to traffic during construction?
The project team has been and will continue to be in frequent communication with various campus constituencies throughout the construction process. Traffic on Whittier Place will be managed by the construction team, with support from Public Safety when needed. Emergency vehicles will be able to access the campus at all times.
Why were the stone gates at the North Entrance removed?

The stone gates were removed and placed in storage for the duration of the BEP project to avoid potential damage due to construction vehicles. The gates in be reinstalled at the conclusion of the project.

Who can I contact with questions or concerns about the BEP project?

Please direct any questions or concerns to bep@swarthmore.edu. All messages received will be answered in a timely manner by a member of the project team. Questions and concerns may also be addressed to Jan Semler, director of capital planning and project management, at (610) 328-8660.