Mackenzie Hurlbert – General Assignment Reporter –
The demolition of Seabury Hall started in the Fall 2012 semester, but came to an abrupt halt in December. Currently the building is still standing, but its windows have been boarded up and the inside is partially gutted. The project was delayed for the rest of the fall semester and is planned to restart in the spring.
“We have experienced a setback with the demolition of Seabury. The project manager from the State Department of Construction Services had a debilitating stroke in December and the project was put on hold until a new assignment could be made,” said Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations.
The next step was to find a new project manager to take on the task, and once this was achieved, the university needed to obtain a permit to continue with the demolition. “I am now working with the new project manager who in turn is working with the demolition contractor in applying for a demolition permit from the City of New Haven,” said Sheeley.
A large portion of the demolition process has been completed. “The building has been stripped, all asbestos abated and all utilities with the exception of water and electricity disconnected,” said Sheeley. “Electricity and water need to be available for demolition and the demolition contractor will be responsible to disconnect both of these utilities at the end of the project.”
Once the demolition is completed, the site, located behind the TE portables and near parking lot 12, will be used for temporary parking. The next projects will be the renovation of Buley Library and the construction of the new academic science building which will replace Jennings. The completion of the Buley Library restoration project is up for bid for $30 million, and the new science building is also up for bid at $49 million.
“Both projects are scheduled to start in April or early May of 2013 and will take approximately 20 months to complete,” said Sheeley.
The School of Business moved out of Seabury and into their new building, which includes an official finance trading room with an electronic ticker tape, in June 2012. The transition has been a radical change as School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin explained.
“There are people here who spent their career in that building,” said Dean Durnin, referring to Seabury. “There were water problems in there… It was not handicap accessible even though it was a four floor building, so what that meant was that if anybody with any physical disability came over, like a student to see his or her adviser, they had to call upstairs, the person had to come downstairs… it just did not work.”
“It had no meeting space, so for a business school it really did not meet our purposes,” said the Dean. “The benefit of being here now is that we have some classroom space, we have some seminar rooms, we can invite people from the business community in, and we are so proud of our surroundings where we didn’t feel that way before. We felt like we wanted to be partnering with the business community but we had no place to host them. That’s made a big difference.”
“The other thing is this end of the campus. This is the actual address of Southern, 501 Crescent Street, so that’s the official entrance. It used to be that you came in and you saw Seabury Hall, and now you pull in and you see this beautiful building. It’s made such a difference for us, but it’s just made such a difference for the university in general, having this be what people first see,” said Dean Durnin.
“It’s so important when we bring prospective students and their families into campus,” she said. “And even the Lyman Center that’s right next door, where we have lots of events where people from the community come to. They park and they walk past this building and say ‘Wow!’ It truly has elevated the image of the university.”
While the Seabury building housed only faculty offices for the School of Business, this new building includes faculty offices, seminar rooms, administrative offices, the finance trading room, and a Business Success Center where students can go for information on internships.
“The good news is that we are thrilled about all that, our challenge is we filled up the space when we moved in, we are hiring more faculty, and our undergraduate enrollment continues to grow,” said Dean Durnin. While those are good things, the Dean said, they have already used up the space within the new School of Business and are forced to hold classes elsewhere.
Some business classes, mostly for underclassmen, are held in the TE-8 portables, but this is hopefully only a temporary location as the rest of the old student center, connected to the new school of business by a breezeway, is revamped as classrooms and more School of Business space.
With multiple projects in mid-completion across the university, many students are curious about what these changes will mean. More parking is often a request from the large commuting population at Southern, a call that will hopefully be answered by the new parking garage being constructed on Wintergreen Ave.
Some students like junior Stephanie Gibson feel the need for larger classrooms.
“I’ve found that a lot of classes are very crowded, so if larger classrooms were installed to handle larger classes, I think it would be very nice,” said Gibson.
Junior Jennifer Leno called for more parking for residents by creating more parking for commuters.
“It would be nice to actually be able to park around the residence halls again, as residents. Even though they’re building the new garage, I’m sure people would appreciate more spaces closer to the academic buildings,” Leno said. Once demolished Seabury will be used for temporary parking, but depending on when the demolition is finished, students may have to wait until Fall 2013 to park a little closer to campus.