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Delays plague Jones South renovations

Photo by Marcel Merwin | The Rice Thresher

A detached sink sits in Jones South during ongoing renovations. Work began over the summer and lasted through O-Week into the beginning of the school year due to delays caused in part by problems with piping.

By Yasna Haghdoost     9/3/14 2:39pm

After delays in Jones College construction, which was initially scheduled to finish before Orientation Week, Rice University Housing and Dining looks to finish basement and kitchen construction in the South section, according to H&D Associate Vice President Mark Ditman and Facilities, Engineering and Planning Manager of Communications Susann Glenn.

According to FE&P Senior Project Manager Anzilla Gilmore, the renovations included the addition of a first floor suite and study spaces, larger lobby spaces, upgrading restrooms, as well as various smaller fixtures.

Ditman and Glenn said the delays were in part due to new piping, water fixtures and redoing the bathrooms.

“We ran into a few of those hiccups along the way,” Glenn said. “The contractor recovered the best way that they could. It was truly a heroic effort the night before O-Week move-in. We had people on site until 5:30 a.m. It was incredible. Obviously that’s not an ideal situation, but the good news is we learned lessons.”

According to Gilmore, the cumulation of decay in Jones’ buildings resulted in the delays, which were resolved by August 23, the move-in day for all Rice students.

“The major factor that contributed to delays to the project was a general underestimation of the complexity of the renovation of a 57-year-old building,” Gilmore said. “Over the years, the building (particularly the restrooms) has suffered a lot of wear and tear, [whose] extents were not completely apparent until we started demolition. Once the issues were uncovered, additional design time had to be taken to properly address the best way to put the restrooms back together.”

The remaining renovations include those related to the kitchen and basement, which had a lower priority than students’ rooms, according to Ditman.

“The hall lobbies’ kitchenettes are being removed,” Ditman said. “Those have been consolidated into a larger room for studying and the remnant of the space will be more suitable for social things.”

Member of the Jones Renovation committee Mitch Torczon was not pleased the renovations were still in place during O-Week but praised Gilmore’s work in finishing up the construction within the week.

“I am disappointed that the renovation was not done before O-Week and that there is still some major touch up work being done,” Torczon, a Jones junior, said. “That being said, I have been very impressed at how hard Gilmore has been working to get things finished. [H&D] have really done an incredible amount the first week of school.”

Jones sophomore William Fernandez expressed frustration with the delays in construction, that displaced all new students in South section to North section for O-Week.

“It would be nice if H&D would finish something on time every once in a while,” Fernandez said.

Jones senior Kyle Denny, however, was overall pleased with the new renovations.

“I like how they color coded the floors  — that really helps,” Denny said.

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