6 Jul

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 1- students clear site of mulch and debris.

2- clearing of trees.

3- Barry removes existing trees.

4- students work to remove non-working bollard.

Student Observations

Construction begins.  Two weeks ago the class submitted a document fully detailing our design for the site, and it has since been approved by campus housing authorities.  Andrew Fox and Pete Fraccaroli (campus housing) met for a few minutes this morning to discuss some lingering issues about the bioretention cells.   A few of us hovered close to the meeting, anxiously awaiting what we were certain was bad news.  Fortunately, Pete just needed to air a couple of concerns.  Andy assured him that the plan was flexible by design, and could easily weather the minor issues still hovering in the minds of the stakeholders.  We wiped our brow, having narrowly escaped what we were sure was a complete redesign, and followed Andy to the top of the job site where a ribbon cutting ceremony had begun.

Joining us for the ceremony were the campus housing authorities (among them Pete Fraccaroli and Kathleen Ruppe), campus landscape architect Tom Skolnicki, our department-head Gene Bressler, and College of Design Dean Marvin Malecha.  The mood was light, but charged, and restlessness began to brew amongst the student-builders.  After a few interviews and some pep talk, the ceremonial gestures were over, the top brass departed, and work began.  Our first task: clear the site of all extraneous material.

Trees needed removal, mulched beds relocated, and surprises disarmed.  The latter being a concrete vault discovered hiding under a bit of mulch that intersected our meticulously placed walkway. The relocation of mulch beds and the hauling off of tree limbs provided a warm up opportunity for the group.  After an hour, the class had become quite nimble as a team, and by lunchtime, we had hit a rhythm. Like a school of fish plopped into a new aquarium, we had figured out our role (after some exploration), and began to function like a unit.

Once the site had been cleared and debris hauled away, we were a bit struck by our new blank canvas.  Suddenly the design was much more easy to visualize, and a few faces lit up in the team… perhaps imagining the design in situ for the first time.

By this point, clouds were collecting overhead and a few phantom claps of thunder were reported.  News of afternoon thunderstorms prompted the class to move into high gear for the last task of the day:  tree protection and silt fencing.  Energized by a bit of lunch, the team erected roughly 300 linear feet of fencing around the two great oaks that filled the site, hybridizing both the tree protection and silt fencing into one piece.  Almost on cue, the sky opened up after the last stake was hammered in place.  Though wet, muddy, and hot, the attitude of the class was not dampened by the storm that ushered us home.

– Preston Montague


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