We do monthly walkthroughs of rising Hayden with the contractors, partly to make sure we’re well informed and there are no surprises later on, but partly just because it’s good to see the work getting done. At the present time, there are about 180 workers on site in the course of a week and we are probably pretty close to the maximum rate of expenditure. The ASU project manager Bill Johns, who really is the Ike of this D-Day, didn’t have his spreadsheets handy when I asked, but guesses we’re doing about $4 million a month in expenditure right now.
So how much, I asked him, did it cost to take out the old ‘clerestory’ and fill in both the ground level opening and then the one that used to connect lower concourse with lower level. Oh, he said, looking at a colleague while they both calculated, about half a million dollars. Bargain! I said – taking out that excrescence will give us a spreading terrace (with good wifi) and a handsome approach to the revived main entrance of the building. I’d been afraid that was a big additional expenditure, but to get a signature architectural success, it’s cheap.
Progress continues on all floors. Most notable to the naked eye is the advance of the elevator shafts. Where a month ago there had been a gaping watch-your-step hole between top and bottom of the building, now the masonry is in place and you can see where the elevators will be. Electrical conduit, piping, flooring, ceilings – all are in play. Outside the south moat is filled in and covered, while the east moat is ready for its next step after they finished burying a giant water holding tank below the level of the old moat. That tank is designed to have rainwater funneled to it in our summer downpours, then it’s open at the bottom to allow the water to return naturally to the aquifer. Arizona’s a little short on storm sewer systems so other means need to be found. (I used to spend a fair amount of time in Qatar in my old life, so I noticed that most of their schools and public buildings were closed for two days this week because they got a year’s rain – 2.5 inches – in one day and there were no drains to handle it and plenty of road underpasses to fill up.)
We also had a chance this month to see the forest of solar cells on the roof of Hayden, still in operation and staying in operation for the whole duration of the project except one weekend when the electrical equipment they connect to will need to be moved.
Best news of all is a change in design. You may remember that on the north side of Hayden there have been three levels of paving. At the bottom was the library moat, at the top the walkway passing between Hayden and the Social Science building. But between, there was a weird half-level walkway with rough stone planters and the occasional uncomfortable bench. That level will now be brought up to grade level, the paving all redone of course, and so that with the old walkway will give a much wider space, a plaza of its own, facilitating foot traffic but also, on the shadiest side of the building, allowing another outdoor space sure to be popular with staff and students. The north moat will remain, probably to be called a plaza as well, with an entrance to the building at the old upper concourse level, so that end of the building will be much livelier and better traveled than ever.
And they’re ahead of schedule, at least a little.