That ringing in your ears is not imaginary. It’s the sound of construction taking place all across campus. Even before the last cars rolled out of Durham packed to the gills with remnants of dorm rooms, the electricians and plumbers and heavy equipment operators were rolling in to begin work on several projects taking place in these not-so-lazy days of summer break.
There are some minor projects — a new stairway between Main Street and the Field House, a new lactation room in the Memorial Union Building — and then there are the major projects. Here’s a look at a few of the latter.
Project: Hamilton Smith Hall Renovation
Est. Completion Date: Fall 2017
Cost: $37 million
Funded by: Internal borrowing
Description: Theodore Roosevelt was president when Hamilton Smith Hall was built in 1907 to house the university library. It became an academic building in 1958, and today it’s home to the English department, which means most students pass through Hamilton Smith at some point during their time at UNH. Ham Smith, as it’s known, has the most classroom seats of any academic building on campus, and it will gain more in the expansion, as well as high-tech classrooms and informal study and meeting areas. The reconstruction also will address heating, plumbing and accessibility issues in the 108-year-old building. Fans of Ham Smith’s classical facade need not fear — the columns will be restored, as will the original atrium and WPA-era murals inside.
A new pedestrian walkway and footbridge at the rear of the new building is expected to transform the way students move across campus by linking the Dimond Library and Thompson Hall areas to Ham Smith and the east end of campus.
The offices and classrooms in the front part of the building will be open until the end of the fall semester, but after that all Ham Smith residents and classes will move to other buildings until construction is complete.
Destination Ham Smith (article)
Project: Hamel Recreation Center Expansion and Renovation
Est. Completion Date: December 2017
Cost: $35.5 million
Funded by: Tax-exempt bonds; campus reserves, internal borrowing
Description: There will be no wait for free weights in the newly expanded Hamel Recreation Center. The campus community has clamored for more space at the center, and that’s just what they’ll get when this project is complete. The renovation will bring more fitness space as well as a 1/10 mile suspended track, two new multi-activity courts, a wellness space and instructional kitchen and new social and gathering areas.
Project: Holloway Commons Expansion
Est. Completion Date: February 2016
Cost: $10.5 million
Funded by: HEFA bond
Description: After February, you won’t need to stalk almost-done diners in order to get a seat during rush hour at HoCo. This project will add 350 seats to the dining hall, meaning you’ll be able to linger over your lemon chicken minus impatient glares.
Although the project is scheduled for completion next winter, HoCo will be open for dining in the coming fall semester.
Project: Stadium Renovation
Est. Completion Date: Fall 2016
Cost: $25 million
Funded by: Private donations, internal borrowing
Description: If you strolled past Cowell Stadium recently, you may have seen the visitors’ bleachers being carried off the field. Crews are preparing the area for reconstruction. A new athletic complex will be finished in 2016 and will feature more seating, more bathrooms, new concessions, a stadium-style press box, a club lounge and seating and other improvements and amenities that will, says deputy athletic director Steve Metcalf, “make the quality of the facility match the quality of the teams playing there.”
The new stadium was designed with the ‘Cat Pack in mind; based on students’ feedback, the Dungeon will stay in the end zone.
What about upcoming seasons? Although it will be under construction, the Wildcat football, lacrosse and soccer teams will host at Cowell during the 2015-2016 academic year.