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Work on the exterior of the Rotunda is almost finished, and three new dorms have opened.
The new residence halls under construction at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Photo/The Daily Progress/Andrew Shurtleff
Saturday, August 24, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — When conditions are right, the tarp hanging over the roof of the University of Virginia’s iconic Rotunda will come off, and the scaffolding on the side of the building will come down.
Like much of UVa Grounds these days, the Rotunda is in transition. This fall, the university hopes to put the final touches on a year-and-a-half-long Rotunda roof renovation. It’s one of several projects the school has either finished or is close to finishing.
When weather conditions are just right — including three or four days without rain — crews will begin painting the dome, bringing an end to the $7.8 million project.
UVa officials had hoped to complete the work last spring, but rainy weather stalled them. Now, said Joseph Lahendro, the university’s historic-preservation architect, they’re waiting for a four-day window with just the right conditions. Most importantly, he said, it can’t rain, but there are other considerations, as well.
“It’s not just time, but temperature and humidity,” Lahendro said. “It’s all a careful dance between those elements.”
This year will be the last chance for students to step inside the Rotunda before the university begins a two-year interior renovation. Workers will replace elevators, plumbing and electrical systems and add a new AV system, Lahendro said. The work begins in the spring, and it will close the Rotunda for two years, he said.
Until then, officials are experimenting with extended hours for students only, allowing them to come in during the evenings using their IDs.
“They’re tests in that we want to increase usage as soon as possible, but they’ll also help us learn how we can better facilitate after the end of the construction,” Lahendro said.
The university has already completed three new dorm buildings for first-year students on Alderman Road. The buildings, Lile-Maupin, Tuttle-Dunnington and Shannon houses, will house a total of 544 students and 18 residential staff members.
The dorms replace four residence halls on Alderman that were outdated. The university is in the final stages of its plan to replace all of the older dorm buildings along Alderman, which suffer from outdated infrastructure, said Gay Perez, executive director of housing and residence life. Many of them had no air conditioning or fire sprinklers, she said.
“The university did a cost-benefit analysis,” Perez said. “They found that the cost to renovate was more than the cost of building new ones.”
Dunnington, demolished earlier this year (and its name incorporated into one of the new dorms), will have a replacement by 2015. The three remaining original buildings — Courtenay, Dunglison and Fitzhugh — will remain for now, Perez said, although they could eventually be torn down for two new buildings.
“We have no timeframe,” Perez said. “When we decide to tear them down, that’ll give us an idea.”
The North Grounds Recreation Center will reopen Monday, with the completion of renovations to the squash and racquetball courts. A new wing with a swimming pool, whirlpool and sauna will open in November, said Matthew Kelly, a spokesman for the university.
UVa is still making renovations to Ruffner and Cabell halls, which are both scheduled for completion in 2014, Kelly said.
Cabell, which contains 50 classrooms and 390 faculty offices for the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, will remain open during renovations.
The building is getting a new lighting system, new finishes to surfaces and floors, landscaping and a connection to the South Lawn plaza. The work is expected to be completed in August of next year.
Ruffner, part of the Curry School of Education, is closed while crews remove asbestos and update the outdated mechanical system. It will reopen in June, Kelly said.
The university is also taking care of some infrastructure needs. The East Chiller Plant, just off Lee Street, is scheduled for completion in September, Kelly said. The plant will supply cold water to the Medical Center, which currently uses five chillers in the north plant that are near the end of their lives.
Crews already have installed a new utility line in front of Minor, Maury and Halsey halls.
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