Fixing Folwell disrupts class

Construction noise during class has professors and students worried about the volume during exams.

Vincent Staupe

Foreign languages aren’t the only sounds reverberating through the hallways of Folwell Hall these days.

Renovation of the historic University building has students and faculty complaining as the sounds of drills and hammers disrupt their classroom environment.

“It’s been going on for a long time,” French and English senior Sarah Meyer said. “It’s loud, disruptive and kind of invasive.”

With midterm exams approaching for many classes, instructors are worried the noise could distract their test-taking students.

Angela Carlson-Lombardi, an instructor in the Spanish and Portuguese department, called the Office of Classroom Management on Monday to find a different room for her exam, due to the loud drilling occurring near her fourth-floor classroom.

“I’m all for the reconstruction of the building,” Carlson-Lombardi said. “My concern is that one of my students said he can’t take the exam.”

A classroom management official said the office would instruct the construction company to cease work on that part of the building while she conducted the exam, Carlson-Lombardi said.

The $15.5 million construction project is slated to be completed by December 2007, said Brad Hoff of University Facilities Management.

Hoff said the project at Folwell is split into several phases, including a “total exterior facelift,” which

involves replacing the terra cotta pieces and brick, and a “full tuckpoint” of the exterior.

In addition, the thirteen distinctive chimneys on the building will have ductwork running through them so they can be used for heating and cooling, Hoff said.

The exterior perimeter of the building is also being dug out so the base can be waterproofed.

In the meantime, instructors are finding creative ways to avoid the construction.

Instructors and staff in the French and Italian department said they saw a note on one of the classroom doors telling students that class was being held at a local café.

The noise “is a little too much,” said instructor Hoa Nguyen.

Many students at Folwell Monday said they wondered why construction was not confined to the summer, when the majority of students are not present.

“We had to wait until we had approval from the legislature for funding, basically,” Hoff said.

Approval was granted July 1 and the remainder of the summer was spent designing the project, sending bids and getting the contractor on site, he said.

“It would take three full summers to complete the project,” Hoff said. “It’s much more cost-effective to sit down and hammer the thing out in one year.”

In the meantime, instructors are told to be patient and are calling the University to ask them to suspend construction during specific times.

Spanish and Portuguese sophomore Mariah Eilts said her instructor calls the University when he has trouble being heard over the clamor.

“My teacher talks quietly so it’s pretty hard to concentrate,” she said.