2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

TC Media Center from the Office of External Affairs

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TC's Looking Good

While most students and faculty were away for the summer, scores of construction workers labored long hours in the record heat to complete the renovations to the Main Hall entrance, ramp, and the student lounge. Orchestrating the many projects involved in the renovation is a serious and soft-spoken man-Jim Quinn, the field superintendent for the general contractor, R.C. Dolner.

Under his supervision he has had an assembly of carpenters, electricians, steam fitters, duct workers, brick layers, surveyors, steel workers, iron workers, painters, plasterers, flooring installers, terrazzo installers, roofers (including the hard-to-get slaters), copper craftsmen, glaziers, wire lathers, and a variety of other union workers. He, in turn, reports to quality control inspectors, architects, engineers and other outside agencies.

"I'm responsible for making sure that all parts of the reconstruction are done according to plans," Quinn said. For three years, Quinn was, himself, a construction inspector for New York City, and before that a carpenter for 10 years. He also studied construction management at Pratt Institute.

"Everything that was supposed to be done is getting done," Quinn said when asked if he ran into any problems in the reconstruction. Due to the age of the building and the lack of drawings detailing some of the work done in the past, the workers didn't always know what they would find when they broke through walls. "In any restoration job," Quinn added, "you will run into some minor problems; but that is to be expected."

The new exterior ramp was poured at the end of June. Brick walls were built soon after the concrete was in place. Steel railings and a flagstone surface will complete the ramp. The Teachers College name in bronze-colored letters will be mounted on the wall.

By the end of July, the interior ramp and steps were poured and the terrazzo tile was being installed to match the existing floor in the hallway. Sheetrock was put in the area housing the new security desk, and electric lines were ready for new light fixtures in the lobby. During demolition of the walls and floors in room 116 Main Hall, and the subsequent construction of walls, floors and ramps, special care was taken to protect the woodwork and stonework in the original lobby area. Stonework along the top of the wall that bear the initials "TC" would have been difficult, if not impossible, to replace, Quinn said. So they were careful to protect them.

"New woodwork and trim will be the last phase," Quinn noted. Wood paneling to match the existing panels extends into the security area and alongside the ramp. A wall of glass and wood was being constructed to divide the ramp area from the lobby. The new security desk area houses television monitors and eventually will be the location of a fire command center. Glass doors divide the lobby area from the security area. A tactile map will be installed to guide visitors through the building.

Richard Keller, Director of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, said that the College has an ongoing accessible route mapping project in place. The project includes a professionally designed version of no-step travel routes, a tactile map for individuals who are visually and/or perceptually limited, and several installations throughout the college of the combined graphic and tactile designs. These permanent installations will be placed in several key locations around the College, including the new Main Hall entryway.

In addition to the Main Hall entrance, the student lounge was being tended to by a variety of workers. Installers laid a new paneled wood floor after carefully checking the subflooring to eliminate squeeks. Glaziers took out and repaired the long double-hung windows. The small leaded glass panes above were reproduced for those sections that formerly housed air conditioners, and all were replaced to resemble their original design. Air conditioning ducts went into the ceiling with recessed halogen lighting. Wood panels on the walls match the existing woodwork, and new computer areas on either end of the room now house wooden desks.

As the Main Hall construction was underway, scaffolding was erected along 120th Street along Russell Hall and Horace Mann Hall. Roof repair, air conditioner replacement and slate work was being done at the top of Russell Hall. Brickwork was repointed as well. At the top of Horace Mann Hall, roof work was done and the cupola was restored with new copperwork. The exterior work on those buildings should be completed by December.

In January, major work will begin in 177 and 179 Grace Dodge Hall. And in late spring of 2000, restoration of Milbank Chapel begins.

The work is slow and tedious, and sometimes seems never-ending. But as Quinn pointed out, "When you are building in an already existing space, along with the fact that it is a possible landmark, it is difficult to make changes easily."

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