200 Days in the Life of the College

Wednesday, April 27

Hill’s construction chief leaves no stone unturned

By Tucker Keren ’13

As the end of the academic school year approaches, Hamilton’s Physical Plant employees anticipate the construction that will begin immediately following Commencement. Bill Huggins, the associate director of Physical Plant, oversees all building projects. Huggins has spent 11 years supervising what he considers to be Hamilton’s largest restoration period in history. In that time, about $150 million has been spent on campus construction. Building on such a scale in an uncertain economy, it’s crucial to control costs, and Huggins never lets building supplies go to waste — in part because he is also devoted to preserving the architectural identity of Hamilton’s historic structures.

The majority of Hamilton’s academic buildings and residence halls on the north campus were constructed from a locally quarried building stone called Herkimer dolomite. Slowly, the supply of Herkimer dolomite in three surrounding quarries diminished. Today, Huggins and the Physical Plant strive to re-use all stockpiles of the stone in order to maintain the uniformity of the buildings. To date, Huggins has successfully supervised the renovation of Siuda House and Eells House through the recycling of remaining Herkimer dolomite. In both cases, the construction crews also aimed to preserve the structural identity of the buildings.

Looking forward to the upcoming summer, Huggins plans to continue sustainable practices wherever possible. Construction of the new Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art will involve no stone, so Huggins plans to use the remaining supply of Herkimer dolomite in the renovation of chimneys on north campus buildings. By also salvaging vintage light fixtures this summer, Huggins can continue the tradition of recycling authentic pieces of Hamilton’s 200-year history.