300 Mass. Ave. construction projects causing complaints

Random Hall addresses construction near the dorm

Random Hall residents will be getting some noisy neighbors later this month as construction begins at 300 Massachusetts Avenue, right next to the dormitory.

The external wall of Random that faces away from campus will be only five inches away from the new Millennium Pharmaceuticals biotechnology building.

Construction is set to begin later this month under contractor Forest City Enterprises, which obtained permits from Cambridge to change the zoning requirements of the area. Millennium’s 250,000 square foot building will be 95 feet tall — four stories higher than Random — with mechanical equipment on the roof reaching a height of 129 feet. MITIMCo is also managing the project.

The Tech received a transcript of a meeting of Random residents and Henry Humphreys, Dean of Resdential Life and Dining, Richard Amster, Director of Facilities andCampus Planning, Engineering & Construction, and Gary Tondorf-Dick, Program Manager of Capital Projects.

Several participants in the meeting mentioned an incident in which a piece of construction equipment was operating directly outside a resident’s bedroom window. Amster assured residents that he would work with the contractor to address any future resident complaints and had already discussed the previous incident with them.

The officials at the meeting informed Random residents of current plans for the construction. By the middle of this month, fencing and barriers will be put up around the construction zone. Amster also reported that demolition of the existing building is expected to begin at the end of September and last through the end of October. The foundation is set to be finished around January, while walls are set to be up by 2014 and the project finished by the end of 2015.

According to Amster, the construction process should not disturb Random residents. The hours of work are projected to be 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. He also said that the contractor would be informed of campus events such as CPW, REX, and finals week so as to minimize the impact of the construction at those times.

Humphreys said that most or all of the work will occur on the side of Random without windows, and workers will not be allowed to enter Random unless authorized. Amster did not expect environmental factors to be a concern, although he did admit that activities like jackhammering might be noticeable.

Random Hall residents at the meeting brought up concerns ranging from dust to pest control. Amster and Tondorf-Dick reiterated that they would be the primary liaisons for communicating with the contractors and MITIMCo and urged residents to email them with any complaints.

There are various sentiments among students in Random Hall, from communal concerns to apathy toward the situation. Jerome File ’17 remains apathetic to it, saying “I’m used to it, I lived in the city, it’s just like another day to me.” Others felt similarly, as several residents said they didn’t have a strong opinion or didn’t really know what was going on when asked for their reactions. Those who were concerned mostly worried that the project would disturb their privacy and provide unsavory conditions to live in. According to File, “they’re right outside my window every day, pretty much my alarm clock to tell me that the day started.”

The structural conditions of Random Hall itself were also brought up several times during the meeting. Amster reported that the crumbling part of the exterior wall near the Sunoco gas station had been stabilized during the summer and that changes to the roofdeck were nearing completion. There is also a crack in Random’s basement under monitoring, and additional monitoring will be added in other locations during the course of the construction. Amster added that while the contractors had to stay within vibration limits, residents should alert them “if the place is shaking.”