Emerson Hall Renovation Update - Hamilton College
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The new addition takes shape at the back of Emerson Hall. PHOTO: BY J.D. ROSS PHOTO: BY J.D. ROSS
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Emerson Hall Renovation Update

By Alex Pure '12  |  Contact Holly Foster 315-859-4068
Posted December 10, 2009
Tags Emerson Hall
As every Hamilton student and community member has noticed, there’s a big, loud construction site right in the center of campus. But while many understand that the general goal is to overhaul the ELS building, fewer people are familiar with the detailed changes that are being implemented. William Huggins, associate director of Physical Plant (the Construction branch), hopes to explain the whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys and hows of the project.

As of right now, “the original building has been completely gutted out,” Huggins says, though most of the building remains structurally intact. Perhaps the biggest change will be the relocation of several services and events. Those activities that have been held in the Bristol Hub will move to ELS; significantly, the college bookstore and the radio station will move as well (the former to the first floor and the latter to the second). There are rumors that a Starbucks will set up shop in the new kitchen/café area, but for now they remain just that – rumors. “It’s still in the working stages,” Huggins says.

The ELS rooms and aesthetics are also getting a makeover. The second and third floors, especially, will be distinguished by “brighter colors and funkier furniture. It’ll be more relaxed,” Huggins says. These floors will house lounges, spaces for student organizations, storage and mechanical areas, dinettes, small kitchens, and TV rooms (with “high-tech AV systems and LCD screens”).

But the interior won’t be the only thing that’s changing. “Come 2010, we’re going to double the size of the parking lot next to the Pub,” says Huggins, since there's "not much parking next to Emerson." The whole front yard of ELS will become a traditional lawn – “a more residential look” – and there will be no more blacktop bus turnaround like there was before. Additionally, “the main entrance will be from Martin’s Way,” Huggins explains, citing better traffic flow and easier accessibility.

Environmentally friendly construction is also a huge priority. Huggins and his team are drilling 28 500-foot-deep geothermal wells under and around ELS. These wells (which are connected to underground water pipes) will gather heat from the earth in the winter and cool the building off in the summer. “It’s the same as in Skenandoa,” Huggins explains. Also, the walls of ELS will be packed with soy-produced spray foam insulation; ultimately, ELS will use “next to no energy” on temperature control.

Additionally, the construction team is also trying to save the big oak tree – “one of the main focal points of the area” – from being cut down. The other trees on the property have already been transplanted to Physical Plant, Dunham, and the outdoor seating area between KJ and McEwen.

The project, which costs $8 million dollars (100 percent donated money), will be completed by July of 2010. “It’s sort of an island, and all of the student activities will be right there in the center of campus,” Huggins explains. “I think students and everybody will be really pleased.”


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