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New Look Coming for Gasson Quad

Work on St. Mary's, Merkert, Conte also to take place this summer

Architectural rendering of the new Gasson Quad (looking toward Fulton and Lyons halls) as it will appear after this summer’s reconstruction project. Work will begin after Commencement.

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: May 9, 2013

The Gasson Quad will undergo a major reconstruction this summer, a project that will include regrading, landscaping and other changes.

The summer’s campus construction also will see the St. Mary’s Hall renovations continue, the first phase of some key safety upgrades in several residence hall areas, and improvements to Merkert Chemistry Center and installation of an air conditioning system in Conte Forum. 

The Quad project will entail replacing the present network of paths and its central hub with a diagonal north-to-south walkway, and leveling the area’s grade to provide improved pedestrian traffic flow and provide better outdoor function space. Most of the trees now standing will be removed to provide for a central open space, and replaced with flowering trees and seat walls around the perimeter. The large linden in the southern corner in front of Lyons Hall will be retained.

In addition, the stretch of roadway between Gasson Hall and the Quad will be converted into a pedestrian way, although it will still be accessible to emergency and utility vehicles.

Vice President for Facilities Management Daniel Bourque said the Gasson Quad project, which will begin May 21 — the day after Commencement — and is expected to be complete in late August, is part of a larger initiative to create an integrated combination of architecture and green space in the Middle Campus area. Last summer, the Plaza at O’Neill Library underwent a similar transformation that included landscaping and the construction of a new pedestrian walkway leading to the Quad, while the opening of Stokes Hall in January provided another link.

“Once the Quad is redone, you will have a continuous path from the front of O’Neill to Stokes, creating a more unified campus,” said Bourque. “It will serve a practical purpose, obviously, but will also be a visual delight. As with the Plaza, the Quad will have more usable and attractive space for relaxation and recreation, or for public events.”

Bourque said the Quad will be closed to pedestrian traffic during the project, but efforts will be made to ensure access to Lyons and Fulton halls. He added that the ledge removal and other excavation work will create considerable noise. 

“We are working with the departments and offices most affected to minimize disruptions,” said Bourque.

Another notable summer project will involve fire alarm and sprinkler system upgrades in Rubenstein Hall and the Mods, beginning what Bourque said will be “a major investment” in improving life safety-related infrastructure throughout campus residence halls.

Conte Forum will be a more comfortable environment when Facilities Management completes installation of a chiller and dehumidifier on the Conte roof, among other improvements, this summer. Bourque said the improved system will provide air conditioning to the main forum area, lobby, main concourse and Power Gym, and offer more comfort during large-scale events such as Pops on the Heights and First Year Convocation.

Also in the next few months, three teaching labs in the Merkert Chemistry Center will receive upgrades, including increased seating capacity, improved sightlines and updated equipment, Bourque said.

Meanwhile, the two-year St. Mary’s project that began in January is “proceeding very well,” said Bourque. Installation of the building’s new cast stones and roofing is just beginning and will continue throughout the summer. Demolition and abatement is largely complete in the building’s interior, and the process of laying out plumbing and mechanical systems for the top three floors is under way, he said.

St. Mary’s will once again house the Boston College Jesuit community when it reopens as expected in December 2014, and its south wing will be the new location for the Communication and Computer Science departments and the Woods College of Advancing Studies in early 2015.

Construction-related updates on campus traffic and parking will be posted on BCInfo.