Facilities crews finish campus-wide construction

Construction on Hearn Plaza and at Wait Chapel has concluded following months of work in the cold


Cooper Sullivan, Staff Writer

Students were greeted with scaffolding, dumpsters and rolls of caution tape when they returned to campus for the spring semester. The most notable of these construction projects surrounded almost the entirety of Wait Chapel as well as the steps to the east side of Hearn Plaza, near the Kitchin dormitory. 

In addition to these two areas, the stairs leading to the south entrance of Benson by Tribble Courtyard, the pathway leading to ZSR Library and the staircase of Reynolds Gymnasium received attention from the construction crews. 

The unusually long winter break allowed Facilities & Campus Services to conduct renovations without much disruption to students’ daily lives. On the department website, notices of the construction were posted in mid-to-late-November, detailing what areas were being renovated and which of the surrounding areas would be affected by the closure. Each notice indicated that renovations would conclude “in early February.” 

The majority of the projects have been completed as of Feb. 10, but the South Benson stairs renovation has been pushed back to this summer.

“The contractor had issues getting materials to complete [the renovation of the stairs] over Winter Break,” said Chris Looper, project manager for the renovation. “That got pushed back, [and is now being targeted as] a summer break project.”

Looper says the delay should not be cause for concern.

“It is just time to upgrade the steps, as is part of the normal life cycle of the building,” Looper said. “There is no structural damage.” 

Looper also noted that the metal picnic tables will not be returning to Tribble Courtyard until after the project is completed. “We are going to weld [the tables] back into place, so instead of welding and cutting and welding them again, we just put wooden picnic tables [in for now] so we can move them in the summertime,” he said.

Julia Perry, project manager for the Wait Chapel renovations, said that all exterior renovations have been completed after initially being delayed due to cold weather. 

“We refurbished the windows and they needed some time to cure,” Perry said. “The cold was impacting the painting, especially on the west side.”

In addition to the refurbished windows, the inside of Wait Chapel will now have automated shades to compensate for the glare. Audiovisual technology has also been improved, but Campus Facilities is still waiting on some more hardware to arrive.

“Scaffolding should be down by the end of next week,” Perry said. “It should have come down sometime last week but because of the cold weather and [the possibility of disturbing] classes taking place in the chapel, but we decided to keep it up [for the time being].”

The most recent and impactful construction project to be completed is that of the stairs on the east side of Hearn Plaza. The staircase, which was still intact from when Wake Forest relocated to Winston-Salem in 1956, was scrapped and rebuilt to fix water damage. Worn-down granite and rusted handrails were also replaced. Project supervisor Chris Poe says that the addition of a handrail along the brick makes the staircase compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

This renovation was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, but was delayed because of the initial coronavirus shutdowns. The stairs to the west side of Hearn Plaza by Davis Residence Hall are on the docket for repair this summer. Construction teams are planning a similar makeover to the stairs on the east side. 

“Eventually we will do the two on the north end, the two that are up against the Chapel,” Poe said. We are also going to work on the colonnade (the covered area that connects the Huffman and Efird dorms to the chapel) on the Efird side this summer as well to address some water dripping issues.”