Feb. 2-14, 2002
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Work on new library starts
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Work on new library starts
Miller Hall to be razed for special collections

Photos by Matt Kelly
The grayed-in area is site of new special collections library, most of which will be underground.

By Matt Kelly

The new special collections library will be worth the two-year construction disruption, said Donald C. Riggin Jr., senior project manager at Facilities Management.

Donald Riggin Jr.

“The construction schedule will be altered for exam periods and commencement.”

Donald C. Riggin Jr.
Senior project manager,
Facilities Management

Speaking Jan. 30 at a meeting at Newcomb Hall, Riggin said Beers-Skanska Inc. of Richmond had been awarded the contract to construct the $26 million Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture, which will house the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. The contractor may start erecting a fence around the site as early as this week, with completion scheduled by February 2004.

Miller Hall, formerly home of the Office of Admissions, will be torn down in April or May, and 40,000 cubic feet of dirt will be excavated to accommodate the construction of a 72,700-square-foot facility, 80 percent of which will be underground. When completed, it will house the University’s Special Collections — 300,000 rare books and 12 million manuscripts valued at $350 million, described by University Librarian Karin Wittenborg as state and national treasures.

The underground portion will have two levels. On the lower level, materials will be stored in compact shelving in a climate-controlled environment, set at 33 percent humidity at 66 degrees. The basement will be double-walled, with drainage in between, and the inner wall will be waterproofed.

The other underground floor will include reference and reading rooms, production facilities, administrative offices, an auditorium and a display of one of 25 existing copies of the Declaration of Independence, donated by the Smalls.

There will be two floors above ground, with an entrance hall, exhibit gallery, gift shop, seminar and study rooms and offices for visiting scholars.

During construction, a fence will block the passage between Peabody Hall and Clemons Library, since the excavation will extend right up to Clemons’ basement wall. A walkway between the fence and Peabody Hall will link Newcomb Hall to McCormick Road. The front of Alderman Library will be open, with fencing extending to the sidewalk along Alderman. The McCormick Road sidewalk will remain open.

Riggin warned about the truck traffic. Starting in mid to late June approximately 4,000 dump truck trips will be needed to haul dirt to University property on Old Ivy Road, where it will be used to fill in a cellar hole for future construction.
“There will be a truck about every 15 minutes,” said senior construction manager Steve Ratliff, who added that the contractor is charged with keeping the street clean.

Once the hole is dug, dump trucks will be replaced by concrete trucks. Construction will operate on a 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. timetable, with some weekend work, according to Riggin, who added that accommodations will be made for exam periods, commencement and other University functions. There may be some blasting, since there is a rock shelf in one corner of the excavation, but Riggin said there would be advance warnings.

“Construction is noisy, dirty and a pain,” Riggin said. “In two years we will say it was worth it.”

Once construction is complete, there will be an entrance from Clemons into the new library, partly to satisfy fire exit regulations. Clemons also will house a generator to supply electricity to the Special Collections area during power outages.

When completed, the landscape above the collections will slope gently from Peabody to Alderman, eliminating stairs and ramps. There will be new brick walkways and grade level skylights to bring natural light into the upper underground level.

Six trees will be taken out in the construction, according to Jeanne M. Hammer, coordinator of capital projects for Alderman Library: two oaks in front of Miller Hall, a large ash tree between Miller Hall and Alderman Library, and three smaller ashes along the library sidewalk.

Library officials estimated that Special Collections would be closed for about a week during the transition to the new facility. During construction, electricity and water will be rerouted so service will not be interrupted. Riggin also said construction would have no impact on Newcomb Road.

People may observe the construction as it happens via a Web site.

“This will be a nice building when it is done,” Riggin said.



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