Summer Campus Construction Projects Well Under Way

Improvements coming to Hannah Street, Kresge Gymnasium, Olin Hall

July 14, 2014

Kresge Gymnasium's new entrance will feature heated steps, an accessibility ramp, and automatic door openers.

Albion College’s Facilities Operations staff has set an ambitious schedule for construction projects this summer.

The most visible project, the construction of a boulevard on Hannah Street, and the repaving of sections of Mingo, Perry, and Ingham streets, started the last week of June. The College is funding the project to assist the city in repairing roads that had deteriorated in the especially challenging weather conditions last winter.

“There has been talk of how to better incorporate Hannah Street into campus since the 1950s,” Facilities Operations Director Don Masternak said.

Masternak said a six-foot median with areas providing for common crosswalks will be constructed along Hannah from Cass Street to Porter Street. Director of Grounds Mark Frever has been charged with locating salt-tolerant trees to add to the aesthetic look of the major campus artery. The Hannah project calls for reducing the street to two lanes from Porter to Erie Street, with the extra lawn being on the fraternity side, providing greater separation between vehicles and pedestrians. The lawn will extend one lane width into Erie’s intersection with Hannah, reducing the pedestrian crossing distance and reducing the steep incline to improve safety and accessibility.

The earth on the quadrangle around Kresge Gymnasium and Olin Hall is being moved, as the buildings are being outfitted with underground heating coils to help with the removal of moisture in the winter. The Kresge entrance is also receiving an accessibility ramp and automatic door openers, and purple and gold spotlighting will allow the campus community to know when contests are being played inside the historic facility.

“The heating system for Kresge is a priority because of the timing of events,” Masternak said, referring to volleyball and basketball contests often played at night or weekends when his staff is off. “It’s not just for the safety of our guests. The employees have been expected to shovel large areas and there is limited place to put the snow.”

The elevation of the quadrangle is being raised by three feet and the platform leading to the Kresge entrance is being expanded to better accommodate staging for major College events, such as the September 12 inauguration of Mauri Ditzler as Albion’s 16th president as well as Commencement each spring. Conduit for allowing the wiring of speakers will be included in the project.

“The primary purpose of the project was to replace the concrete steps in front of Kresge and Olin,” Masternak said. “Everything else [involved in the project] was an opportunity to collaborate with the multiple users of this monumental entrance and focal point of the quad. We reduced the footprint of the ramp in front of Kresge by half by moving the Earth in front of the gym.”