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As construction wrapped up on a number of Penn projects, facilities improvements began on others. Newton South High School '96 Newton, Mass. The reverberating rhythms of jackhammers and drills became a customary backdrop to the campus' daily sounds in 1997-98 as the University completed several construction projects, while beginning other additional renovations. Among some smaller renovations inside existing buildings and residences, construction was completed or renovations began on several of the University's most prominent buildings, including the Roy and Diana Vagelos Laboratories, Logan Hall, Van Pelt Library, the Annenberg School for Communication and Houston Hall. The Vagelos Labs of the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology were unveiled in November after two years of construction. The building, at 34th Street and Smith Walk, houses two interdisciplinary research centers -- the Institute for Medicine and Engineering and the Center for Excellence in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Funding for the project came from a $10 million donation by University Board of Trustees Chairperson Roy Vagelos and his wife, Diana. Vagelos, a 1950 College graduate, is the former chairperson and chief executive officer of New Jersey-based Merck & Co., a large pharmaceutical company. Additional funding for the construction came from $27 million in grants from the U.S. Air Force. Another long-awaited project that was unveiled this year was the restored Logan Hall -- the second-oldest edifice on campus, built in 1880 -- which has been undergoing renovations for more than seven years. The building, at 249 S. 36th Street, reopened in mid-January after a lengthy external restoration process and $9.2 million worth of interior renovations. Logan Hall is the first completed step in the $69 million Perelman Quadrangle project, which is designed to create a student center linking Irvine Auditorium with Logan, Houston, Williams and College halls. The project is scheduled to be completed in about two years. The restored building includes a 330-seat auditorium, a terrace room, several classrooms and seminar rooms and a ground-floor art gallery. It now houses the College office along with the History and Sociology of Science, Philosophy, Religious Studies and Classical Studies departments. The Women's Studies program and the Benjamin Franklin Scholars and General Honors offices are also now located at Logan. Also in January, students accustomed to the spacious study areas of the Rosengarten Reserve and the first-floor reference area of the Van Pelt Library found these spaces closed off with plastic tape and temporary partition walls as the library entered the fourth phase of its massive rehabilitation project. Phase IV, the renovation of the facility's main entrance and circulation center, should be finished in August. Phase III of the project -- which saw the addition of new reference facilities and study areas on the library's first floor -- was completed in December, just in time for students to try out some of the new spaces during final exams. The heavy construction work going on in the library over students' heads and under their feet as they studied, however, sparked some concern toward the end of the school year. Several students, for example, said that they feared some of the drilling and demolition work may be releasing carcinogenic asbestos fibers -- dangerous above certain densities -- into the air. Indeed, some asbestos, but not enough to be hazardous, fell from the ceiling into an area in Rosengarten where more than a dozen students were studying January 21. At the time, environmental health officials said the construction posed no danger. Students also complained that the library's temporary early closing hours were leaving them without a place for all-night studying. The library returned to its normal hours in April. Further down Walnut Street at the Annenberg School, construction has been going on since October to renovate the older section of the building and replace the Annenberg School Theater with a teleconferencing center linked to the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Part of the two-year, $15 million renovation project will involve making the school's entrance on Walnut Street more visible. The Annenberg library and graduate students' offices have been temporarily relocated to 4025 Chestnut Street during the construction. Relocation was a big issue this year for many student government groups, campus organizations and performance art groups based in Houston Hall, as University officials prepared for the historic student union's shutdown in late May by slowly assigning individual groups to new sites. Houston Hall is undergoing renovations to link it to the future Perelman Quad and must remain empty while construction takes place.

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