Thursday, January 11, 2018

Carruthers Hall Improvements: Many partners help produce great results

Carruthers Hall has not necessarily been known for its beauty.

Traditionally, it looks its best in early spring, when a flood of daffodils bloom near the main entrance. At most other times of the year, the grounds around it are leafy or muddy or otherwise fairly bare, and sprinkled with worn-down spots where people have beaten their own paths to cross Emmet Street.

Carruthers Hall before exterior renovations.
We can't wait to post an "after" picture
this spring!
 Yet Carruthers serves many visitors from across Grounds including students and parents. For some time, some improvements have been needed.

Besides ongoing renovation work within the building, a steady stream of activity has been taking place with the aim of improving both the appearance and safety of Carruthers’ exterior spaces. Those projects have been the result of much-appreciated collaboration with many departments and funding from diverse sources.

Over the course of three years, parking and walkways have been improved, and outdoor seating and spaces have been added. And, says Disha Venkatesan of UVAFinance, there is still more to come.

“Landscaping will be done this spring, when it is time to plant,” she said, adding that a study is currently underway to improve the crosswalk used by so many in Carruthers and the Michie buildings to access the Barracks Road Shopping Center.

Those two projects trail a number of developments from the recent past, and represent a mountain of fact-finding, studies, and cooperation between many different departments.

The landscaping Venkatesan mentioned will be a finishing touch to the other functional and visually pleasing upgrades Carruthers has already received: in addition to a new terrace/ picnic area, additional seating has also been added just outside the building’s entrance.
Melody Bianchetto, VP of Finance, cuts the ribbon on the
new terrace area outside of Carruthers Hall.
There are many other improvements to notice. Aging trees have been removed and others have been trimmed and maintained, the retaining wall in front of the building has been repaired, and the front stairs leading down to the sidewalk (and often leading Carruthers denizens to engage in ill-advised games of Frogger across Emmet Street) have been removed. Parking spaces around Carruthers have been reconfigured to be ADA compliant and to make traffic move in a safe, appropriate way,

Venkatesan said the project has been approached in chunks: getting studies funded by various groups, performing the surveys, and taking the resulting data to make the case for funding the projects.

Listening to the over 450 people who work in Carruthers and the Michie buildings was also key.

Piece by piece, concerns and problems are being addressed, not only with the cooperation of many different departments, but also through funding from various areas including Arboretum and Landscaping, the Grounds Improvement Fund, the Office of Accessibility, and UVAFinance itself.

Mark Stanis, Director of Project Services in Facilities Management, worked with all the different UVA entities to help get the project moving and keep it moving.

“First we worked on the studies, and then we partnered with Accessibility, Grounds Improvement, and Arboretum and Landscape to do the implementation,” he said.

“In all of this,” he added, “the VP of Finance was the champion driving all of it.”

Although more improvements are still to come, both Stanis and Venkatesan agree that the project has been worthwhile.

“These additions make the building more pleasing and usable for staff, students, and visitors,” said Venkatesan.

“All of this takes time, but with the help of others here at UVA, we’re moving forward and making things better and more enjoyable for everyone.”

No comments: