Construction site of the new Connell Recreation Center. (Gary Wayne Gilbert)

Boston College is in the midst of an extraordinarily busy summer on the construction front, with several major projects in progress.

Work is underway on the Connell Recreation Center and new athletic field house – both on the Chestnut Hill Campus – and the baseball, softball and recreational fields on Brighton Campus.

In addition, renovations have begun at Devlin Hall that will result in a larger, improved visitor center for the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

As always, there also are dozens of smaller-scale projects as well as the repair-and-rebuild jobs, planned and routine maintenance and other tasks that fill the Facilities Management to-do list every summer.

“The recreation center, field house and baseball-softball projects affect some 20 acres of land altogether, and involve some of the largest quantities of earthwork here on campus,” said Associate Vice President for Capital Projects Management Mary Nardone. “It takes a phenomenal amount of effort, skill and organization, but we have confidence in both our Facilities staff and the outside firms involved in the work. 

“We also have confidence in the practices and procedures we follow during planning and in undertaking construction projects,” she added. “The results, we believe, are beneficial to the University community.”

Nardone and her Facilities Management colleagues recently discussed the progress of the major campus projects:

•The Brighton Athletic Fields – expected to be completed this coming March – will consist of three athletics fields, situated between St. Clement’s Hall and Lake Street, and a support building. 

Project Manager Michael Leone said the current phase of the project involves installation of piping and other infrastructure to ensure the fields have sufficient drainage. This will likely be finished by the end of August.

“As we get toward the fall, you’ll start to see foundations rising from the ground, like the grandstands and press boxes,” he said. 

On the eastern-most edge, facing toward St. Clement’s, will be the 3.5-acre baseball field, which will have a capacity for 1,000 spectators. The field will include a press box for media and public address functions, a synthetic playing surface and lighting.

Immediately adjacent to the baseball field will be the softball field, which is about 1.5 acres and will seat 300 spectators. The softball field will include a similar, albeit smaller, press box, and also feature a synthetic/clay playing surface and lighting. 

On the western edge will be the 250-by-270-foot intramural and recreation field with natural grass, as well as lighting for nighttime use.

The one-story support building, approximately 3,000 square feet, will be primarily restrooms and concessions support space. 

Leone also noted that the project will include upgrades to the existing roadway to provide for improved vehicular and pedestrian pathways near 129 Lake Street.

The project architect is CHA Consulting Inc./DLR Group, and Bond is the construction manager. 

•The 115,000-square foot athletic field house, located adjacent to Alumni Stadium, will provide much-needed space for varsity football and other field sports, as well as campus recreation, club sports, and intramurals. It is expected to open in August of 2018.

Excavation at the site is currently underway, according to Project Manager Thomas Runyon, resulting into two enormous piles – each about 35 to 40 feet high – of soil that will remain on Shea Field while other work continues. Some of the soil will eventually be used as subsoil for drainage-related purposes, he said. 

Foundation work was expected to start this month and is likely to continue until the end of August; structural steel for the building is scheduled to arrive in September, Runyon said.

One important aspect of the project, Runyon noted, is that its proximity to a major MWRA waterline requires the University to follow strict guidelines on how work is conducted. “We are extremely careful in all phases of the construction activities.”

ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge is the architect for the recreation center project, while Suffolk is the construction manager.

•The 244,000 square-foot, four-story Connell Recreation Center, which will replace the Flynn Recreation Complex, is being built at the former site of Edmond’s Hall on Thomas More Road. Expected to open in the summer of 2019, the center will include a state-of-the-art fitness center, jogging track, natatorium with lap and instructional pools, four wood-floor basketball courts, three tennis courts, two multi-activity courts and multi-purpose rooms for spin, yoga and fitness classes, among other amenities.  

With demolition of Edmond’s and site excavation completed previously, said Project Manager Edward Stokes, foundation work will begin in earnest this month, with pressure-injected footings -– similar to those for the field house – to be driven into the ground. 

Like most of Lower Campus, the center site sits atop what used to be a reservoir, Stokes pointed out, which means “a significant amount of concrete pouring” is required for the foundation – especially the parts of the building that extend the deepest, such as the basement and the swimming pool. The four-foot-thick concrete slab will withstand the water pressure from below.

By the third week of August, Stokes said, the structural steel phase of the project should be ready to begin.

While there is never a 100 percent guarantee against something unexpected happening as a project progresses, BC does a lot of due diligence before shovels – or any other equipment – go into the ground, Stokes added.

“We drill test pits to make sure our information about the site is as complete and reliable as possible,” he said. “It really helps in reducing surprises.”

CannonDesign is the project architect; Skanska is the construction manager.   

In Devlin Hall, work should be finished next month on an expanded reception area for the Office of Undergraduate Admission that improves the flow of foot traffic, especially during admission tours. Another feature of the project will be the construction of a 250-seat lecture hall – in space formerly occupied by the McMullen Museum of Art – that will be used for admission programs, expected to be finished during the spring semester.

Other summer projects include renovations to the Greycliff Hall portico, creation of a student lounge, and study and reflection space in Kostka Hall, and an upgrade to the Lyons Hall dining area highlighted by a new entrance with glass walls.

Find ongoing updates on the Athletics facilities upgrade project here.

​—Sean Smith | University Communications​