Construction on New College House West, Penn’s record-breaking $163 million dorm hall, remains underway and on schedule to open in fall 2021 despite setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered many construction projects and “nonessential” businesses to immediately shut down by March 21. But the construction of NCHW has been approved to proceed in order to stabilize and weather-proof the site, according to Michael Dausch, executive director of design and construction management in Facilities and Real Estate Services. The new dorm hall, which will sit on the corner of 40th and Walnut streets, is approximately 50% complete, Dausch wrote in an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Dausch wrote that NCHW is still on track to be completed for the fall of next year, but acknowledges that some general uncertainty remains due to the shutdown.
"The project remains within budget and on target for fall semester 2021 student occupancy," Dausch wrote in an email to the DP. "We will not be able to know the full impact of the shutdown until it is over and full construction productivity levels are restored."
Fifty employees work on the site each day, according to Dausch. He wrote that construction is being operated under closely-monitored protocols to ensure worker safety against the coronavirus. At the time of publication, FRES did not respond to the DP's inquiry about the specific safety protocols in place on site.
The Pennsylvania governor’s order exempts “emergency repair work” on campus associated with pre-approved building projects, according to Dausch. Work currently being done on NCHW is allowed in order to make the building “safe and secure” and to prevent weather damage to interior areas that have already been completed.
Current site-stabilizing construction measures include the installation of roofing, exterior wall panels, and window wall systems.
The NCHW project was unveiled in November 2017 and began construction in December 2018. When complete, the 13-story building will house 450 students and will be open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors starting in 2021. Designed to help strengthen undergraduate College House communities, it will open at the same time that Penn’s new housing policy requiring sophomores to live in on-campus housing will go in effect.
Also approved for continued construction, is Tangen Hall, Penn’s first hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation, located steps away from the NCHW construction site on the northeast corner of 40th and Sansom streets.