College Walk Restoration Highlights Beauty of Central Campus - September 5, 2007

College Walk Restoration Highlights Beauty of Central Campus
Columbia University Facilities Completes Six Month Project in Three Months

September 5, 2007

After more than 50 years of pedestrian traffic and poor drainage, College Walk, the University's main public walkway, was in need of surface and sub-surface restoration to repair unevenness and cracking.  Facilities staff immediately knew that completing such a mammoth task would require the complete shut down of the main walkway on 116th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.  Another thing was clear - the project could not commence until after Alumni Reunion Weekend and had to be finished prior to the start of the academic year. The restoration, which would normally take six months, had to be competed in three.
Since time was of the essence, Don Schlosser, Columbia's Assistant Vice President for Campus Operations, quickly assembled a top-notch project team to get the job done in half the time, including Facilities Senior Engineer/Project Manager Larina Pun, Hoffmann Architects, specialists in exterior rehabilitation, and Siteworks Contracting, selected for their track record of swift, quality work.  
"The project team worked extraordinarily well together, which was important because we had little room for error," said Schlosser. "Everyone was working towards the same goal: completing the job on time and in the right way."
Due to the tight timeframe, the work schedule at the project site was intense - usually 12 hour days, six or seven days a week.  And that wasn't the only challenge the project team faced.  The workspace was tight - only 22 feet wide - which made it difficult to navigate the equipment needed to perform the work.  To make matters even more complicated, 2007 was one of the wettest summers on record.  
"Rain can halt the project for 24 hours," said Pun, the project manager.  "But we were all focused on meeting the completion date.  If we experienced a delay one day, we worked twice as hard the next day."
Completed on schedule on August 24th, the result is an attractive, smooth and uniform new passageway that highlights the beauty of Columbia's central campus.  The new walkway features new, smooth asphalt pavers from Broadway to Amsterdam, new granite curbing to tie into the architectural vocabulary of the campus, a drainage system to eliminate large puddles on the walk, and new black light poles and globes (scheduled for installation in mid-September) to achieve consistency in appearance on the classic campus.
In keeping with Columbia's commitment to sustainable design, the restoration was also environmentally friendly.  The old asphalt pavers were recycled, and the new pavers are made of nearly 25 percent recycled materials.  In addition, the new light poles incorporate the Philips QL Induction Lighting System, notable for its light quality, low energy consumption and longevity.  The new fixtures use only 20 percent of the power - yet provide the same light output - as the mercury vapor lamps they are replacing, says Schlosser.

The section of 116th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave. was bricked over and became a pedestrian walkway in 1954 as part of Columbia's bicentennial celebration. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was responsible for obtaining the thoroughfare for the University.

Since then, College Walk has been a meeting place, event venue, and the main walkway for a purposeful stride or leisurely stroll across the Morningside campus.  "Its restoration will ensure the beauty of Columbia's central campus for years to come," said Schlosser.

 college walk

A restored College Walk features new pavers, granite curbing, a drainage system and an environmentally-friendly lighting system.