Dramatic site overhaul begins at Olin Hall

A rendering of the planned Engineering and Science Building. (Vanderbilt University)

Signs and fencing have gone up at the corner of Highland and 25th avenues, the construction site for the new Engineering and Science Building.

In addition, work has begun on underground utilities and drainage for the building, which will be three times the size of the current Olin Hall and connect to Olin through a two-story atrium. Underground utility work is scheduled to continue through August.

Additional preparation of the site will require the clearing in mid- to late-July of 66 trees so that land can be properly graded. Of that number, 42 trees will be recycled into paneling and trim for the new building.

“[rquote]This not only works toward our sustainability goals, but the mix of hardwoods from this site should bring a beautiful variety to the interiors to be enjoyed for years to come,” said Judson Newbern[/rquote], deputy vice chancellor for facilities and environment.

The university explored every option to maximize the number of trees that could be retained, he said. The large magnolias near the base of Olin Hall will remain where they are, and the tree donated to Vanderbilt by ESPN for hosting its GameDay show here in 2008 will be relocated.

The tree clearance will not affect Vanderbilt’s designation as an arboretum, and no unique examples of any species on campus will be lost. A corner with shade trees will be re-established in front of the new building once construction is complete.

In addition to the site itself, work will be occurring in adjacent areas on Highland, 25th and Garland avenues. “Care will be taken to keep all roads open during the construction period and to minimize disruption to the morning and afternoon rush periods,” said Julie Covington, associate director of architecture and construction.

According to Covington, blasting and site excavation will begin in August and will continue until December, and the building itself will start to go up in the spring of 2015. Construction within specialty tech spaces is expected to continue through much of 2017, although the majority of the complex should be ready for occupancy by August 2016.

Watch the construction progress via live webcam »