By Ed Brennen
Work is underway on the addition of two new elevators at Fox Hall, the university’s largest residence hall and, at 18 stories, the tallest building in Lowell.
Scheduled for completion in the fall of 2017, the $18 million project will increase the number of elevators at Fox Hall from three to five, making life more convenient for the 800 students living in the East Campus high-rise.
“We're thrilled about the two new elevators,” says Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Residence Life Joel McCarthy-Latimer. “When the project is complete, the wait time for an elevator will significantly decrease, move-in and move-out lines will become shorter and students will be able to move more efficiently throughout the building.”
The project also includes upgrades to the two existing passenger elevator cabs, which are original to the 43-year-old building. The existing third elevator at the back of the building, which is primarily used for freight, will remain unchanged.
“Anybody who’s lived in Fox knows that this will definitely be a huge improvement for the student experience,” says Facilities Management Project Manager Fred Gavriel. “It’s a much-needed project.”
The new elevators will be constructed on the exterior of the building, rising up alongside the front brick section to the left of the main entrance. They will be accessible from inside the first-floor lobby, which will be reconfigured for security purposes, and service floors three through 18 of the building.
The new elevators will travel 500 feet per minute, cutting the average trip time in half to approximately 60 seconds. The average trip time for the existing elevators is approximately 2 minutes, 20 seconds. All four elevators will be called from the push of the same button, further decreasing wait time.
The new elevators will also be able to carry more people, with a 4,000-pound capacity.
Gavriel says the plan is to have the new elevators up and running in time for move-in next fall. The two existing passenger elevators will then be taken offline for approximately one month to be modernized.
To minimize the project’s impact on students living in Fox Hall, Gavriel says contractors will try to get as much work done as they can during winter intersession and over the summer.
“We always adjust our construction schedules so we’re not starting too early or going too late,” says Gavriel, who is working with Residence Life to ensure the project goes smoothly.
The project will require the removal of the exterior staircase on the left side of the entrance, although the right staircase will remain intact for those visiting the University Dining Commons on the second floor.
“The plan is to really make the entry plaza more inviting by adding some light,” Gavriel says. “With the help of some design elements, it will be a better entryway for students.”
The project is designed by Bergmeyer Associates, which recently completed the McGauvran Center and also renovated the University Dining Commons.