What’s Happening to the BU Beach?
Construction on Admissions Reception Center, School of Law
04.04.2013 By Amy Laskowski
Two major construction projects—at the School of Law and the new Admissions Reception Center—have transformed the area around the Warren Alpert Mall, better known as the BU Beach, into a construction staging area. Trucks, cranes, trailers, and fences flank BU’s primary green real estate, but University officials say the two projects will have a minimal effect on students who use the space for lounging, studying, and sunbathing.
“We appreciate that the BU Beach is precious space on campus, and as much as we can, we’ll make it available,” promises Gary Nicksa, BU’s senior vice president for operations.
The majority of disruptions to the area from the School of Law project won’t begin until after Commencement, in late May, and will continue until mid-August. The two trailers currently on site have only slightly reduced available seating on the lawn.
The planned expansion and renovation of LAW’s 265-foot tower—made possible by an $18 million gift from Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), the executive chairman of CBS and Viacom—will include a new west wing and upgrades to the existing building, such as thermally insulated windows, refurbishments to the building’s exterior concrete panels, and new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The west wing will house most of LAW’s classrooms, additional study space, and a library to complement the existing Pappas Law Library. The west wing will be completed in June 2014, and the tower’s completion is expected by August 2015.
Most disruptive to the BU Beach will be the installation of a groundwater recharge system, which will occur between June 1 and August 15. During that time, a section of the area will be roped off. The recharge system is designed to “collect water, treat it, and then put it back into the ground and the sewer system,” says Nancy Joyce, the LAW renovation project executive. “It’s all for water runoff, and there’s a bit of piping we have to install.”
Next door, crews are busy transforming the building at 233 Bay State Road (the former Hillel House) into the University’s new Admissions Reception Center. That project, which includes a complete exterior face-lift and the creation of a large reception area and a 150-seat auditorium, is scheduled to be completed in September. The construction of an additional 2,500 square feet will improve circulation within the building, which will eventually connect to The Castle, BU’s Tudor revival mansion and function hall next door. The buildings will be completely accessible to the disabled.
Part of the new Admissions Reception Center project includes a redesign of George D. Hart Way, including a new landscaped pedestrian plaza. That work should be finished in August.
“This plaza will function as a meeting place for group tours of students and families as they leave the new Admissions Reception Center and go off on campus tours,” says Jeff Hoseth, associate director of construction services at Facilities Management and Planning. “As part of the reworking of George D. Hart Way, the existing boulevard with center median will be replaced with a much wider sidewalk along the new Admissions Reception Center for tour groups and a vehicle turnaround and new entrance with a gated parking booth to the College of Arts & Sciences parking lot.”
Crews are also installing a sewer separation project, which will consist of new storm drain lines in the CAS parking lot and the BU Beach, as part of the construction on the admissions center. This work, which began over intersession, will be completed by the end of the month.
“This involves separating out the existing area storm drains in the CAS parking lot and the Alpert Mall areas, and a few miscellaneous roof drains from the surrounding buildings, from the existing combined storm/sanitary sewer lines in the area,” says Hoseth, “which helps reduce wastewater treatment volume for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and promotes cleanliness of the Charles River basin.”
Nicksa says that the crews’ number one concern is safety. Construction materials are brought in early in the day and unloading is supervised by the BU Police Department and Boston Police. In addition, efforts are being made to ensure that noise is kept at a minimum during peak hours for students using the BU Beach or Mugar Memorial Library for studying.
“We’ve worked with our teams to make a schedule that can limit the noisy things to off-hours when necessary,” Nicksa says. “We’ll work the late shift so that people aren’t impacted.”
This story originally appeared in BU Today on April 5, 2013.