The construction of New College House West, set to open on the corner of 40th and Walnut streets, is days away, and students residing in nearby college houses are preparing for noise disruptions as finals week approaches.
While administrators say they will make efforts to reduce noise when construction starts on Dec. 3, students are still worried they will be unable to study in their homes, creating additional stress for nearby residents of Rodin and W.E.B. Du Bois College Houses.
Emails announcing the start of construction were sent to Rodin and Du Bois residents on Tuesday afternoon by Hamilton Village building administrator Max Reyes-Rosario and Du Bois Residential Services Manager Jane Pablos, respectively.
From Dec. 3 to 10, construction will take place Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Throughout reading days until the end of finals week, construction will be pushed back an hour and take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The emails also said students should expect "intermittent noise due to operation of machinery and equipment."
College senior Ariel Sasson, who lives in Rodin, said construction work would make students more stressed for their finals.
“I feel like now that the most stressful part of the semester for most people is coming up, that it’s going to just add extra stress and distraction,” Sasson said.
“I don’t see why they couldn’t wait a few extra weeks,” Sasson added. "Even if they continued into next semester, it would be at the start of next semester when things are less stressful.”
Engineering senior and Du Bois resident Oladunni Alomaja also said she is worried she will no longer be able to study in her own building. "I’ll have to find another place to study,” she said. “That’s kind of unfair to us."
Mike Dausch, executive director of design and construction management for Penn's Facilities and Real Estate Services, said the construction team will make efforts to reduce noise.
“It’s an experienced team that has worked next to residential facilities in the past, and they understand things like reading days and exams and trying to minimize noise during that time,” Dausch said. He added that his team will "try to keep [noise] to a minimum real early in the morning.”
College sophomore and Du Bois resident David Fernandez said he was disappointed by the 8 a.m. start time during reading days and finals.
“I personally think that it’s a little too early, especially during finals period,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez said he lives on the side of Du Bois facing construction, and that he and his roommates will decide whether to live in the college hall next year based on “how bad these next two weeks will be.”
Once construction begins, a fence will also block off the site and make the diagonal pathway that cuts to 40th and Walnut streets inaccessible.
“It’s going to be really inconvenient also to not have the diagonal path,” Rodin resident and College junior Dominique Martinez said.
Trees in the surrounding area will also be torn down and replanted in 2021, according to the email. Martinez said despite this, she is still concerned with the tree removal.
“Is that actually going to be followed through if it’s three years from now?” she said. “Is anyone really going to remember this little email?”
In November 2017, Penn announced plans to build New College House West on the high rise field, sparking concerns that it will take away one of the few remaining green spaces on campus. Earlier this November, the University Board of Trustees also approved an additional $152.5 million in funds for the new building.
The building will house 450 students and will include suite-style rooms and a dining hall and will be open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. It will open in fall 2021, the same year the University will require all sophomores to live on campus.
While it is unclear when construction will be complete, the email said students should expect an update in January 2019.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.