Construction sweeps across campus

Michelle Farabaugh

After a summer of construction, Villanova students are enjoying modern, environmentally friendly facilities for eating, living and learning as a result of major transformations to Dougherty Hall, Fedigan Hall and Villanova Law School building.

Changes to Dougherty include the removal of a ramp that connected the ground floor of the building to the dining area, as well as a complete aesthetic overhaul of the room.

“The whole concept of dining has changed in the past 50 years,” said Robert Morro, the associate vice president for Facilities Management.

Instead of a traditional single-file line, dining at the Pit now consists of assorted items at different stations throughout the serving area.

A large salad bar fills the space left by the ramp’s removal, instead of dividing the seating area. It also allows diners a full view of the seating area while they are waiting in line for food.

A second entrance into the Pit should help to eliminate lines into the dining hall, according to Morro.

“The look and feel is much more modern,” he said.

The Pit boasts new energy efficient lighting known as “daylight harvesting lights.” When there is sufficient natural light from the windows facing Lancaster Avenue, the fixtures dim to avoid using unnecessary electricity.

Donating old tables and chairs to local schools, purchasing new furniture made from recycled materials and diverting construction waste from landfills contributed to the environmentally friendly renovation as well.

Fedigan Hall was renovated under the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an organization that recognizes “green” buildings.

Driscoll Hall was the first campus building to earn LEED certification, reaching the second highest level of gold last year.

The installation of a geothermal cooling and heating system, utilizing underground wells between Fedigan and the Engineering Building, makes Fedigan the only residence hall on Main Campus with air conditioning.

“Although the building uses more energy than it did before, it uses 25 percent less energy than a traditional air conditioning system would,” Morro said.

Lights with sensors to detect both motion and body heat will prevent wasted energy from illuminating unoccupied rooms.

Closets designed many years ago were removed, leaving residents with an extra foot or two of floor space and a stand-alone wardrobe for storage.

Redesigned bathrooms include dual-flush toilets to save water and showers that shut off after 10 minutes.

Residents can pull the cord in the shower again, but the timer will remind them of how much water they are using.

Two rain gardens located outside the building’s front entrance offer a useful addition to the landscape by providing a place for excess rain water from the roof.

Engineering students will utilize the gardens by measuring their efficiency at releasing water back into the environment.

Elsewhere, Villanova’s School of Law has a brand new building to call home.

While its official LEED certification level has not yet been received, many aspects of the structure contribute to Villanova’s commitment to sustainability.

During construction, 3,000 tons of concrete and asphalt from the old law building and parking lot were compacted and used as sub-base material for the new structure.

Special exterior glass acts as a mirror during the day to repel heat from the sun, but becomes translucent at night, giving passersby an inviting view into the lobby.

A unique feature of the structure is its digital building automation system. Interior cooling and heating units will use less energy at low-occupancy times in the building, saving money and energy.

A lighting system that accounts for natural light, much like Dougherty, and includes occupancy sensors, will also make the building more efficient.

Current construction on campus can be found in St. Rita’s Hall, where approximately 10 rooms on the first floor are being converted to a unified space for Campus Ministry.

The floor will include a seminar room to be used by various Campus Ministry student groups.

Future construction plans center around the renovation of Sullivan and Sheehan Halls.

Working over the next two summers, the halls are expected to be complete by the fall of 2012, and will incorporate changes similar to Fedigan, including air conditioning and reconstructed bathrooms.