Overview | Academic Spaces | Sustainability | Parking | Swarthmore Friends MeetingSummer Deliveries | Additional Questions


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.

What is the construction schedule?

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

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 was demolished in Summer 2017 and Hicks Hall will be demolished in Summer 2019.

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 murals will be removed from Hicks Hall in summer 2018 and conserved professionally off-site. They will then be installed in the Art Department’s drawing studio in Old Tarble. 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, serves as a temporary home for the Psychology Department and a portion of the Engineering Department, which vacated Papazian Hall in summer 2017. 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.


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.


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 will be temporarily reduced in summer 2018 while underground piping is installed from the Chiller Plant, behind the Science Center, to the BEP construction site.  Visitor parking will be fully restored by September 1, 2018.   Visitor parking for the Psychology Department’s Child Development Laboratory in Whittier Hall will has been relocated to Whittier lot.  It will be relocated to a location closer to the BEP building when Psychology moves into the BEP building.

Accessible parking in the Whittier parking lot will be temporarily reduced in summer 2018 while underground piping is installed from the Chiller Plant, behind the Science Center, to the BEP construction site.  Accessible parking will be fully restored by September 1, 2018.  

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 with the Meeting’s liaison group helps ensure good communication and that the Meeting’s concerns are promptly addressed.

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 separates 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 have upgraded the heating systems in both the meetinghouse and Whittier House, and central air conditioning has been installed in the main meeting room of the meetinghouse.

Summer Deliveries (2018)

What’s involved in the deliveries?

The mechanical units which will provide heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for the Biology, Engineering, and Psychology building. They are large units, designed and constructed in sections. Following final testing at the factory, the units will be disassembled into sections small enough to fit on a tractor-trailer. 

For the June delivery, 10 tractor-trailers will arrive at the construction site beginning Monday, June 18 and continuing through Friday, June 22. Saturday, June 23, is a rain date in case weather interrupts the deliveries. For the mid- to late August delivery, there will be four-to-five tractor-trailers arriving over approximately two days. Each tractor-trailer will have a contracted vehicular escort on I-95, I-476 and Baltimore Pike. Borough police will guide the tractor-trailers on borough streets.

For each set of deliveries, a preliminary “dry run” of the route will be conducted with the empty tractor-trailer, so the truck driver can practice navigating the route prior to bringing a fully loaded trailer to campus. This same driver will bring each truck into campus, to build familiarity with the route and to minimize errors in navigation.

Why is the College directing the tractor-trailers to use Cedar Lane?

Several possible routes were analyzed to determine the best way for the tractor-trailers to reach the campus. The route including Cedar Lane was determined to be the best option, in terms of the number of turns required by the tractor-trailers, street widths and grades, and requirements to raise or relocate utility lines that cross the streets.

Will this change affect subsequent construction traffic?

No, construction traffic will continue to use the marked route, which has been in effect since June 2017. This exception is being made only for the size of the tractor-trailers required for these deliveries.

Is the borough aware of the deliveries?

Once the route was selected, we coordinated with the borough police to help ensure a safe delivery of the equipment to the project site. The project team met with representatives of the borough’s tree committee to review the route and discuss tree trimming on Cedar Lane to mitigate potential damage caused by these deliveries.

How will on-street parking be affected?

There will be temporary restrictions on on-street parking at the 400-block of Cedar Lane and on Elm Avenue between Chester Road and Walnut Lane during the period of each delivery. Temporary signs will be installed prior to each delivery to advise residents of the temporary parking restrictions. 

How will traffic be affected?

As each tractor-trailer makes its way to the construction site, traffic will be halted temporarily on Cedar Lane, Elm Avenue, and Whittier Place. These delays should be brief.

What clearance is required?

The tractor-trailers are large trucks, and the units they will be hauling are tall. The overall height of the tractor cab and the equipment requires a 16-foot clear on the route.  

Why did the College request permission to trim the trees on Cedar Lane?

To protect the health of the trees during delivery. Professional trimming of the trees will avoid serious damage caused by ragged breaks if the limbs are torn by the tractor-trailers or their load. A ragged break is more damaging to a tree than a professional pruning.

How extensive is the proposed trimming?

In the 400- and 500- blocks of Cedar Lane, a total of eight properties have trees that could be damaged. Additionally, four properties on Crest Lane (that have backyards on the west side of Cedar Lane) have tree branches that overhang the road and would be in danger of damage. This assessment was based on visual inspection from the ground. A certified arborist will examine each targeted limb before removal to determine whether the limb can be temporarily tied up rather than trimmed. Younger, healthy limbs, with more flexibility, may be able to be moved out of the way rather than trimmed. Trimming will cause no significant harm to the trees or significantly alter the tree canopy.

Did the borough approve the tree trimming?

Yes, the borough approved the College’s proposal for tree trimming. The borough has the right to authorize the tree trimming of all trees within the borough’s right-of-way on Cedar Lane. The right-of-way is defined as 25-feet from the center line of the street. All street trees on the 400- and 500- blocks of Cedar Lane, and those along the rear edge of the residences on Crest Lane, fall within this zone.

Why is the College hiring Bartlett Tree Experts to do the trimming?

Bartlett has worked extensively in the Borough of Swarthmore and Swarthmore College. The borough has used Bartlett to trim street trees in the Town Center as well as in borough parks.

Who will supervise the work?

The trimming will be supervised by a certified arborist employed by Bartlett Tree Experts. 

When will the work occur?

The work is scheduled for Friday, June 15th, weather permitting.

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 has been taken out of service as a student residence for the duration of the BEP project. The student beds lost are offset by additional bed created by the construction of PPR Apartments, which opened 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.

The driveway in front of Kyle House has been 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 will 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.