Summer 2017 Capital Projects Update

A letter from Planning & Capital Project Management regarding summer construction projects.

As part of our mission to maintain a safe, beautiful and functional campus environment, Columbia University Facilities and Operations manages a wide array of renovation and improvement projects for existing buildings both on and off campus. While construction activity is a year-round process, a significant portion of our capital construction program takes place during the summer months, when the campus population is reduced and construction has the least impact on campus activities.

In past years around this time, we have solicited project requests for small capital projects for the summer.  However, for this summer, we are already at capacity for true summer projects (those that begin after commencement and conclude before students return for the fall semester). 

For future planning and informational purposes, this email outlines general background about what constitutes a summer project and a recommended timeline for when to start planning those projects. We have also developed a short video about the summer project process.


As with all construction projects, planning a summer project as early as possible is essential to its timely completion. It is especially important in the competitive New York construction market to allow us adequate time to plan, schedule, design and bid your project, and secure University funding approvals as well as any regulatory approvals prior to the start of construction itself.


Getting your project started is easy through our online project request form. Simply go to our website at and click on "Initiate a New Construction or Renovation Project."

You will be asked to identify the purpose and need of the project, proposed space or location, the project funding source, desired schedule, special requirements or considerations, and a general scope of work. All capital project requests are reviewed by our Project Intake Committee and responded to in a timely manner.


Although every project differs in size and scope, in general, we ask that you follow these guidelines in order for your project to be completed on time. Please note that your department will be responsible for any cost related to an initial feasibility study necessary to determine the scope and preliminary cost of the requested project.


  • Small Projects - May cost up to $500,000, and are usually cosmetic in nature, involving one or two trades such as paint, carpet or furniture, but may sometimes involve minor Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) system or electrical modifications. We assess proposed summer projects on a case-by-case basis since some projects may be too large or complex to complete over the summer.  We recommend submitting submit your project request by the early fall for 2018 summer project consideration to allow time for project planning, development, design and funding.


  • Midsize Projects - May cost between $500,000 to $1,000,000, usually require outside consultants and a general contractor or construction manager, involve multiple construction trades, and require filing with the NYC Department of Buildings as well as ordering long lead items such as steel or mechanical equipment. These projects typically take 8 to 12 months to design and construct. 
  • Large Projects - Typically cost over $1,000,000, usually require outside consultants such as an architect and engineer to design and require a general contractor or construction manager to build. These projects typically take more than 12 months to design and construct. 

If you need assistance completing your request or have any questions concerning the Capital Project process, please do not hesitate to contact Janet Grapengeter, Director of Design & Compliance, via email at [email protected].

Thank you for your cooperation as we work together to help our faculty, students and staff do their very best, while continuing to support the life of our University community and building a better campus for all of us.

Edward S. McArthur
Vice President, Planning & Capital Project Management
Columbia University Facilities & Operations