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New College House West construction began in December 2018 and is set to be completed in 2021.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Students living on campus near the construction site of New College House West say they are being shaken awake from their beds in the morning and disrupted by the loud noises.

Situated at the corner of 40th and Walnut streets, construction on the record-breaking $163 million dorm hall began in December 2018, with the site facing Du Bois College House, Gregory College House, and Rodin College House. Residents say administrators are not properly addressing their concerns and have not taken the proper steps to offer a solution to the NCHW noise levels.

NCHW construction starts at 7 a.m. and lasts until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Rodin Residential Service Manager Jamal Hagood wrote in an email to residents on August 19. The dorm hall is expected to open in 2021. 

Students say the noises have woken them up before the set start time for construction.

"You'll be woken up at 7 a.m. if not earlier, because even though the start time is posted as 7 a.m., all the workers are getting there at 6, 6:30, all the trucks are backing up," College junior David Fernandez said.

Fernandez's room on the first floor directly faces Walnut Street and the alley used for construction vehicles. He said he hears loud rumbling from huge trucks, beeping from trucks backing up, and metal crashing when workers open and close the truck doors.

"There was one time [where] there was some big equipment that was moving into a little side alley next to our building and the vibrations just shook me awake. It’s ridiculous," Fernandez said. 

College junior Jacob Linfesty, Fernandez's roommate, said the disturbances usually begin about half an hour before the scheduled start time. He said some of the loud noises come from the trucks that are unloading equipment in the driveway outside of Du Bois. 

College senior Sam Claypoole, who lives on the 19th floor of Rodin, said the NCHW construction noises bother her more than the construction across the street when she lived in King's Court freshman year. 

"I’ve only been here three days yet, but I had to close my window at eight this morning, because the repetitive drilling noises are just getting to be too much," she said. 

Upon receiving the construction notice from Du Bois College House Residential Services Manager Jane Pablos, Fernandez, Linfesty, and their roommates have written emails to Pablos protesting the new construction schedule and the early morning disturbances. But the students say they are dissatisfied with the current response from Facilities and Real Estate. 

"They basically told us all our concerns were non-issues," Fernandez said. He plans to continue advocating for a more reasonable construction schedule through discussions with administrators at the town hall. 

After Labor Day, there is town hall meeting scheduled for all residents to discuss the NCHW construction plans, multiple college houses and Facilities and Real Estate Services staff wrote to students in emails. 

FRES Vice President Anne Papageorge wrote in an email to Fernandez and his roommates that the loud noises may be "coming from the trash dumpster pickup which has been occurring around or even before 7 a.m., attempting to get access to the area prior to the construction project team."

Papageorge said after the extra move-in time trash pickups necessary for this week, FRES has "addressed the maintenance team to push their times for pickup to 8 a.m." for the dumpster near Du Bois.

Fernandez does not think that would solve the noise problem, however. 

This summer, Penn started on the NCHW steel structure construction, officials said. Workers are now finishing the second floor of the building, said Dave Dunn, the project manager in FRES’s design and construction department.

There will be no additional closures to sidewalks or walkways and alterations to traffic patterns, said Mariette Buchman, the director of design and construction in FRES. A temporary bike rack has also been installed on the east side of Rodin, Hagood wrote in an Aug. 19 email to Rodin residents. The original bike rack is sealed off in the construction area. 

Originally announced in November 2017, the completion of NCHW in 2021 will be followed by the implementation of a policy requiring sophomores to live in campus housing. 

Assignments Editor Deena Elul contributed reporting.

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