Crews were scheduled to fence off the construction site this week and next, according to Planning and Construction Department Clerk of the Works David Ickes, and next month will begin demolition of the building's two auditoriums. This first phase, which involves the construction of an approximately 100,000 gross-square-foot wing, is expected to last about 18 months, he said.
Once the site fence is erected, Ickes said, there will be no public access to the road and small parking area between Higgins, Devlin Hall and O'Neill Library, although the road between Devlin, Fulton and Lyons halls will remain open. There will be no parking along the road between Higgins and the Fulton loading dock, however. In addition, public parking in the lot at the rear of Cushing Hall will be very limited.
Ickes said there will be provisions for handicapped parking on the roof of the Commonwealth Avenue garage and in the vicinity of Gasson Hall.
Most of the stairway connecting Higgins to Lower Campus will be available to pedestrians, Ickes said. Plans call for the construction of two alternate walkways from the rear of Higgins, one leading to the Service Building area, the other to O'Neill Library.
Higgins itself, which houses the Biology and Physics departments, will remain open during the work. The project's final two phases - expected to last nine months each - will involve the renovation of the present north and south wings, Ickes said, during which the interior will be completely gutted and new wiring, mechanical and fire systems installed.
Some Physics and Biology offices and facilities will be moved into the addition when it is completed, while the remainder are consolidated in the south wing as the north wing undergoes renovation in the second phase. There will be further relocation and consolidation in the north wing while the south wing is renovated.
Once the project is completed, Higgins will feature two new auditoriums with up-to-date audiovisual technology, an animal facility and additional classrooms and offices. Physics will have seven labs each for teaching and research, while Biology will have nine teaching labs and 17 research labs, and square footage of lab space will increase dramatically.
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