Facilities Directors Provide Spring Construction Update

Emily Cox Co News Editor

Besides a winning basketball team and abundant school spirit, one thing stands out on this campus to students, faculty and visitors alike – construction. With the reopening of the Finneran Pavilion, this past fall, the University now has three current construction projects in the works as part of The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.

The Lancaster Avenue Development, Performing Arts Center and redesigning of the existing Mendel Field are currently three different construction projects with three different contractors overseen by the University.

Robert Morro, Vice President for Facilities Management, addressed the noticeably halted construction on Mendel Field. Formally referred to as “Transforming the Campus Landscape,” Phase 4 of this project includes the reconstruction and redesigning of Mendel Field. It will include the creation of three distinct plazas, focal points around the circle, a circular walkway and the repositioning of the Gregor Mendel statue, currently situated at the east entrance of the Mendel Science Center. 

Morro notes that although the team had “grand plans to finish Mendel Field this past fall, it was a terrible year for weather,” in regard to construction. The Philadelphia area experienced an incredibly wet summer and fall, part of which also contributed to the mold issues throughout campus in the fall of 2018. With the large quantities of rain fall, construction teams often had to wait for the land to dry or pump the water out from the trenches.

Seeing as the Mendel project is fully outdoors, Morro commented on the fact that they “lost a considerable amount of time [due to the weather]” in hopes of completing the project by November 2018. With construction completely stopped on the site, the projected completion date is July 2019. The team hopes to begin construction again in March, weather permitting. Morro added that most trenchwork is complete, with the exception of a few steam lines to be connected from the field to Mendel Science Center. 

While the construction on Mendel Field has been most notably affected by the recent weather, it is not the University’s only project greatly affected. Marilou Smith, Senior Project Manager for Facilities Management had commented on the effects weather has on The Lancaster Avenue Development for senior housing. 

Although the projected completion date for this complex was December 2018, “rain has made it very difficult…but luckily, we’re inside most of the buildings now,” Smith said. Construction has continued on both outdoor and indoor elements of the new buildings. While the project has been delayed, it will not delay the opening of the dorms, set for fall 2019. 

The Commons, the formal name of the new residence halls along Lancaster Avenue, are still projected to open in time for move-in at the start of the fall 2019 semester. The complex will provide a variety of living options and include apartments, suites and single rooms, allowing 85 percent of undergraduates to live on campus. Student-centered amenities in The Commons will include two fitness centers, collaborative workspaces and outdoor courtyards.

In addition, Smith mentioned the Performing Arts Center, which is “targeted to open January of 2020.” The construction teams are still on track but have lost the float days in between that allow for flexibility in any construction project. “When it rains, it’s the cleanup for the next two days that you lose,” Smith said.