Accessibility, aesthetics steer Mendel project

Andrea Wilson

An unfinished summer construction project on Main campus has forced many students to find alternate routes to their classes this fall. The area between Mendel Hall and Old Falvey is being overhauled to become Mendel Arch Plaza, “a gathering point and gateway to Main,” grounds superintendent Kevin O’Donnell said.

The finished project will feature a newly paved square with benches and updated landscaping.

Colonial style lighting will be installed in place of the rectangular “shoebox” lights.

Four benches will be installed around the paved square in front of Mendel, and more will likely be added in the future.

With the removal of a set of steps, the project will also make the area more accessible to handicapped students.

“Making the area more accessible was something that was very important to all of us,” O’Donnell said.

Since the construction of the West campus apartments, the path that led from the train station to Main campus under Mendel Hall’s archway has become a major pedestrian route. At certain times during the day, the narrow walkway would become very congested and the trampled grass around the path was dying.

“It was an ugly, not well taken care of area,” said executive director for Facilities Management Robert Morro.

The weeping cherry tree that adorned the space in front of Old Falvey has been removed, having been partially damaged due to a water main break last year, making it susceptible to disease. A diseased oak was also removed from the other side of the path.

The memorial clock that was located outside Old Falvey is now “safely in storage,” O’Donnell assured, and will be re-installed near its original place. O’Donnell said the clock is a priority of University President Rev. Edmund Dobbin, O.S.A., and that the new project may allow a small garden to adorn the memorial.

The clock honors Joseph Hauck, who died eight years ago of spinal meningitis during new student Orientation.

O’Donnell and Morro said major landscaping in front of Old Falvey will be postponed in anticipation of a large-scale modification of the building planned for the future as part of the University’s strategic plan. Trees will be planted, however, on the other side of the walkway.

The project began in mid-July and was scheduled to be finished by the first week of classes.

Construction was delayed, however, by both the incessant summer rain and the discovery of an underground stream in the construction site. O’Donnell said the area is scheduled to open for pedestrians within two weeks.

Facilities Management is referring to the revamped area as “Mendel Arch Plaza” until an official name is given.