June 21, 2019

Prep work continues as we prepare for the Swartz Hall renewal. Crews are busy installing safety measures in and around the building, including lighting, signage, and fire alarms. Landscape work is also underway. While it may not have been as visible as the work happening on site now, preparation for this renewal has actually been taking place for some time.

I’m excited about the changes to come: the new multifaith space, modernized classrooms, enhanced collaborative areas, better accessibility, and improved carbon footprint. But I also realize that these incredible opportunities and improvements will change the way Swartz Hall looks inside. Because we’ve worked to be thoughtful in every aspect of this project and considerate of the history of this century-old building, and what it has meant to many of us, part of the less-visible prep work included documenting as many of the unique attributes of Swartz Hall as possible.

In this post, I wanted to share with you some of those spaces many of us have never seen before. Below you’ll find images of tucked away crawl spaces, equipment older than many of the students, and views from the building that will soon change.

This first set of photos was taken of the room adjacent to the access point for the roof of the building’s center tower. You’ll see old machinery, likely a fan, made by the Diehl Manufacturing Company in Elizabeth, N.J. And apparently Joey C., Steve B., and Paul B., accessed the room in 1981 and wanted to make sure to leave their mark.

Swartz Hall roof machine room

Swartz Hall roof machine room writing

These next few pictures offer a cautionary note—literally. Found in the closet containing the organ blower on the basement level was a 16-year-old note warning people not to turn it on. “Damage to the instrument will result,” the note says. Below that is a picture of the organ blower. The last picture shows the pipes just below the organ in a small room off of the second-floor Chapel.

Swartz Hall organ blower note

Swartz organ blower

Swartz Hall Chapel organ pipes

The last two images show the mechanical room in the basement. This space contains a maze of pipes that moved water and steam through the building. It also served as a repository for the dozens of window air conditioners when they were not needed during the cooler months. What’s most interesting about this space is not what it is, but what it will become. The installation of more efficient building systems will allow this and other mechanical space to be repurposed for new, modernized student services office space. Our plan to improve the building’s energy efficiency and sustainability also means we no longer will need the air conditioning units, or the vast space to store them!

Swartz steam pipe

Swartz Hall mechanical room pipes

This week’s takeaway. Crews are continuing to prepare for the renewal of Swartz Hall by readying the site for construction work and installing safety measures both in and around the building, from lighting and signage to fire alarm systems.

Site work. Next week, crews will continue to safely decommission all water, electrical, and gas utilities to ensure the building is safe for renewal activities. Installation of the temporary interior fire alarm system and landscape work will continue while abatement in the interior of the building is scheduled to commence.

—Ralph