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  Olsen Hall, Nichols College

Olsen Hall, Nichols CollegeArchitect

Baer Architecture Group, Inc.
265 Main Street, Northborough, MA 01532

General Description

Location: Dudley, Massachusetts
Date Bid: March 2008
Construction Period: May 2008 to Aug 2008
Total Square Feet: 11,280 Site: 1 acre.
Number of Buildings: One, 31 student rooms; 2,3,4 student bedrooms.
Building Size: Basement, 3,760; first floor, 3,760; second floor, 3,760; total, 11,280 square feet.
Building Height: Basement, 10’6”; first floor, 10’6”; second floor, 10’6”; total, 31’6”.
Basic Construction Type: Renovation. Foundation: Existing. Exterior Walls: Existing. Roof: Shingle. Floors: Carpet, VCT, rubber.
Interior Walls: Metal stud, drywall.

Construction Team

Structural Engineer: Johnson Structural Engineering, Inc. - 30 Faith Avenue, Auburn, MA 01501
General Contractor: Lauring Construction Company, Inc. - 23 Brigham Road, Worcester, MA 01609
Electrical Engineer: Shepherd Engineering, Inc. - 1308 Grafton Street, Worcester, MA 01604
Mechanical Engineer: Seaman Engineering Corporation - 30 Faith Avenue, Auburn, MA 01501

As colleges across the country vie for students through their program offerings, on and off campus activities, athletics, and services, there is one aspect of college life that all students are concerned about…housing. What are the dorms like? Who will my roommate be? What features are available to me in my room? These are just a few questions that new and recurring students ask themselves.

From a facilities point of view, how is the building meeting the needs of the student? What will need to be maintained or replaced annually, once every five years, once every twenty years? Does the building fit into the campus setting? What is the replacement cost for a building that has seen better days?

These were just few of the questions that were asked by the staff of Nichols College to their architect Baer Architecture Group when they were hired to renovate the oldest dormitory on campus.

With a growing residential population, Olsen Hall was in dire need of a face lift. The finishes were tired, the heating antiquated, the electrical and life safety systems out dated, and the building envelope was energy inefficient. There was also a limited budget and construction services that could only be performed during the summer as every bed in the hall was needed for students.

The solution was to limit the material palette and maximize efficiency from an operation and maintenance point of view. The architect’s goal was to not just give this 40-plus year-old building a “face lift”, but also give it another 40-plus years of service to the community.

A new entrance was created by enclosing the existing porch with a structurally glazed aluminum curtainwall system. This resulted in a safer environment for the occupants, a weather-protected entrance, and a more modern “look” to the street facade.

The exterior envelope was analyzed for energy code compliance, and found that it was significantly deficient. Not only were all of the single-pane wood double hung windows replaced with high-efficient double-glazed double-hung windows, but the roof was replaced, the eave and rake trim was restored throughout the building.

In order to make the envelope more energy efficient, a high R-value false wall was created. This assembly exceeded the state energy code by 33%. Another wall was created on the corridor side of each student room in order to run the piping between the three floors. New lighting, flooring, paint, telephone/data ports, cable television connection and new furniture completed the student room renovations.

The “gang” toilet/bathrooms on each floor were renovated in their entirety. New finishes, fixtures, and a separate shower area complete the new look of Olsen Hall. The corridors received a new acoustic tile ceiling to hide the mechanical piping, new paint on the walls and a new recycled sheet rubber floor.

With the renovations completed to Olsen Hall, the building is now one of the most sought after residences on campus. The work has given the building a new lease on life, one that will hopefully double its usefulness on this growing campus.


DIV. 7: Roofing: CertainTeed.
DIV. 8: Aluminum Storefront: EFCO Corporation.
DIV. 9: Gypsum: USG, Inc.; Rubber Flooring: EcoSurfaces; Carpet: Blue Ridge Commercial Carpet; Tile: American Olean; VCT: Stonescape by Estrie, Inc.


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