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Wannamaker project nears end, clearing way for renovations

The early morning wake-up call of beeping trucks and jarring jack hammers for students living near Wannamaker Dormitory may be drawing to a close, only to make way for more construction elsewhere on campus.

As workers finish re-routing utility tunnels underneath the Wannamaker fire lane, they will begin preliminary projects in anticipation for the second phase of interior basement renovations to Kilgo Quadrangle dormitories when students leave for the summer May 5, said West Campus II Facility Manager John Duncan.

"The utility part is pretty much wrapping up [in the Wannamaker fire lane]. The last piece is setting the fire lane back in place," said Glenn Reynolds, manager of projects and engineering. "Probably by the end of March, there will be guys working in [Crowell Quadrangle's] House G in the mechanical areas in preparation for the work in the Kilgo side."

Residents of Houses N and O in Kilgo have already been notified that they will have to vacate their rooms by noon on Monday, May 5 to make way for impending construction.

Shawhan Lynch, facilities manager of West Campus I, said construction will need to start right after exams are over because of the limited time available during the summer to complete the massive renovation projects.

"Every moment is valuable. In order to succeed in the timeline that we have, we've got to have those buildings May 5," Lynch said. "There will be movers coming in right behind me [that day and] by the middle of the day [May] 8, it'll be a demolition zone."

After the renovations are completed, all of the dorms in Kilgo will have air conditioning--an expensive feature that was not originally planned. During a review of the project, the Board of Trustees ultimately decided that air conditioning should be installed in all West Campus dorms and approved funding for the project's implementation.

Officials said costs for phase one of Kilgo renovations, which were completed last summer before move-in, were greater than expected since the original designs only called for replacing certain utilities.

"It cost more than we had anticipated because when we originally did the planning for it, air conditioning wasn't included," said Lynch, who also sits on the Board of Directors of Duke Student Publishing Company, which publishes The Chronicle. "When the planning was done... it was more a maintenance issue. The plumbing and electricity were old and need to be replaced."

University Architect John Pearce explained that all of West's original residence halls, including the ones in Kilgo--the oldest dorms on West, with small, tight spaces and low ceilings--were not designed for modern air conditioning. He said air conditioning adds about one-third to the overall cost of the renovation projects.

"It's clear that if you're going to do more work on a project such as adding air conditioning, it's going to cost more," Pearce said. "The time when it was discussed, there was no specific cost estimate for each dorm or residence hall. We used Kilgo as a test case to see how much it was going to cost."

Pearce said that despite any additional costs, the estimated timetable will remain three summers for Kilgo Quad dorms and that houses in Kilgo will remain operable during the academic year.

Although officials said they generally have been able to maintain their time frame, they said the recent poor weather conditions have affected construction members' productivity.

"When it's muddy, it's more difficult for the construction crew," Reynolds said. "We're on a fairly tight time schedule.... We need to have all the utility work done before April. We're trying to get through [adverse conditions though so] we're in good shape on that."

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