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Wannamaker project clears way for dorm renovation

The benefits might not be readily apparent to current residents, but the Wannamaker fire lane is set to undergo construction that will serve as the basis of future West Campus dorm renovations.

Construction will begin in the next few weeks and will continue for the remainder of the school year. Workers will change the location of utility pipes and tunnels to allow for air conditioning and other amenities in Craven Quadrangle and surrounding dorms, said Fidelia Thomason, director of housing management.

"[The work] has to happen now before the residential construction begins in the summer," Thomason said. "The way the residential halls work on West Campus is things come in through the basement in Kilgo and tunnel to the rest of residential halls," Thomason said.

Buildings K, L and M in Kilgo Quadrangle were renovated this past summer and renovations in houses I, J, O and P will begin in May. Kilgo is home to various utility tunnels that provide other quads--Crowell, Craven and Few--with several amenities.

The work will take place six days a week--not Sunday--but will not start before 9 a.m. and will not take place during exam and reading periods, officials said.

Judith White, director of the Residential Program Review, said that without new utility tunnels, students would lack necessities such as Internet services, hot showers and air conditioning.

"Once we cut those pipes/wires, etc., then the other quads won't have hot water, [Internet] lines or power, since the lines are currently connected," White wrote in an e-mail.

Officials said the tunnels in the lower level of Kilgo should eventually be removed to use the space more efficiently. When the utilities are re-routed, Thomason said, the space could supply additional laundry services for students in Kilgo, although it is unclear what the new space in Crowell and Craven quadrangles will be used for.

"Instead of running around the quad from Kilgo, the tunnels will run between the buildings of Crowell and Wannamaker," Thomason said.

Glenn Reynolds, manager of projects and engineering, said the current construction on Towerview Drive is closely related to the Kilgo renovations and the upcoming construction in the Wannamaker fire lane.

Reynolds said construction in the fire lane will not begin for several weeks, although Thomason sent an e-mail to residents of Wannamaker, Crowell and Craven that stated construction could have begun as early as last Monday.

"We haven't gotten a final approval to start yet in the Wannamaker lane," he said.

Reynolds added that students, administrators and housing management officials can offer feedback at a meeting in the next couple of weeks.

Students living in Wannamaker, Craven and Crowell were less than enthusiastic about the project.

"It's kind of a pain that we're going to have to maneuver around the dorm," said Clayton Eiswirth, a sophomore in Wannamaker. "I would rather not have construction at 9 a.m. Saturday."

Sophomore David Eisinger, a Crowell resident, agreed workers should take Saturday off, but said he is accustomed to hearing the construction noise from the work on Towerview Drive. "Why do they do it when I'm trying to sleep?" he said. "It wakes me up early every day."

Drew Yaeger, a senior living in non-air conditioned Craven, said he had difficulty sleeping at the beginning of the year due to the intense heat. Yaeger added he values the quality of life more than the drawbacks of construction.

"There will be a better living environment for future generations," Yaeger said. "The living experience is very important and has many advantages to student life."

Many students highlighted the inconvenience of traffic delays on Towerview Drive, a main campus route connecting Erwin Road, Science Drive and Duke University Road.

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