While students enjoyed a six week long winter break, Facilities Management [FacMan] staff members were hard at work preparing campus buildings and grounds for the upcoming academic term.
“By our standards, we didn’t really have any major renovations this year. The most substantial change that was made was the reconfiguration of the Richardson Room café, “ said Paul Manstrom, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management.
According to Manstrom, The Richardsom Room [Stacks] renovation was an attempt to manage traffic during peak hours.
“That café wasn’t designed well to handle a large load. This is the third reconfiguration that we have done to try and solve that issue, and I think that we get a little closer every time,” he said.
Many students have responded positively to the updates and felt that the layout update was greatly needed.
“It used to be confusing when I just wanted to get something grab-and-go, but now there is a specific place to go,” said Shelby Golden ’18.
The main Welles Dining Hall also received some attention from Facilities Management over break, as the cork flooring that covered the majority of the space was replaced with a more durable vinyl tile.
“When we did the renovation of Hicks, we put a lot of cork flooring in because cork is a rapidly renewable resource. We got LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] credit for that, but it turns out that it was not the most sustainable choice because it does not wear well in heavy-traffic areas. We have been slowly but surely replacing it with a more standard tile that should wear a lot better,” said Manstrom.
FacMan also used the break as a time to prepare for the department’s own break. Buildings had to be closed down and cooled off using digital control systems, a process that involves “a lot of programming.”
Each season brings its own special challenges for facility staff, and now that students have returned to campus, Facilities Management has been trying to keep up with the bitter winter weather that has hit Kalamazoo.
“Up until this week, winter was treating us very nicely. Now we are struggling in some areas to keep these older buildings warm,” said Manstrom.