A delayed shipment of marble is the only thing standing between East Campus residents and a faster, simpler sign-in system.
Construction of the residence hall’s new entryway—which will separate students entering and exiting from guests being signed into the building—was supposed to be completed by the beginning of the semester. But Scott Wright, Columbia’s vice president for student and administrative services, said that two obstacles have delayed the project’s completion.
Construction workers have already dealt with the first obstacle—a leaky pipe beneath the floorboards that didn’t appear on any building plans—but they’re still waiting for a Connecticut mining company to deliver the marble that will be used for the entryway’s new floor. According to Wright, it’s not just any marble—it’s the same stone that’s been used for many building exteriors around campus, including the stairs leading up to several buildings on South Lawn.
“We made a decision that we wanted it to be the same marble as everywhere else,” Wright said, adding that he expects the marble to arrive by the end of September and for construction to be finished shortly thereafter.
All other construction on East Campus’ main entrance was completed by Thursday morning. For the past few weeks, building security has alternated between use of the main entrance and the north entrance—depending on construction hours and crowd conditions—and Wright said it’s Public Safety’s decision whether to keep both entrances open or just use the main entrance until the new floor is installed.
Student and Administrative Services agreed to install a new entry system to East Campus in April 2011, although construction was delayed from last summer to this summer due to a delay in acquiring permits from the city. Over the last few years, huge lines have often formed outside the building on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights as security guards sign in guests, holding up students who just need to swipe into the building.
The new system will feature three turnstiles: one for students entering the building, one for students exiting the building, and one for guests who need to be signed in. Even though the construction has gone on longer than expected, most students were optimistic that the renovations would help ease entry to the building.
“I think it’s necessary, and it’s not taking too long,” Noah Whitehead, SEAS ’13, said. “It keeps the walk interesting.”
Columbia College graduate Mary Shorey, who was visiting East Campus earlier this week, said that the new entrance would be an improvement.
“They probably should have finished before school started,” Shorey, CC ’12, said. “But I mean, I think they’re trying to make it easier, and the new entrance will be better.”
Wright said that the housing office has only received one complaint about the temporary arrangement over the last week—a request that the north entrance be opened more frequently.
“All the East Campus residents have been very understanding, and they just seem to be rolling with it,” he said.
And despite the delays, Wright added that he doesn’t regret ordering the specialized marble, which he said will last for many years.
“Building things that last forever is the best way to reduce waste,” he said.
Kelly Echavarria contributed reporting.