AU Construction Update: Tenley Campus on Track

The final American University Community Liaison Committee (CLC) meeting of 2013 ended the year on a high note. Focused primarily on providing updates on current construction at the Tenley Campus and planned construction at the East Campus, David Dower, Assistant Vice President of Planning and Project Management, said that both projects are proceeding on schedule.

“Things are moving along very quickly” at the Tenley campus, Dower said, though he cautioned that visible changes may appear to be slow at the future home of the Washington College of Law.

Currently, the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company is installing shoring for site excavation, and over the next two months will be digging down 28 feet. Trucks haul away roughly 150 loads of excavated soil each day during excavation. Construction will not be at grade, i.e. visible at ground level, until May 2014. The law school is slated to open in the fall of 2015.

In response to a question, Dower said that while the work crews have not uncovered any items of historical significance during excavation, they did recover during demolition a time capsule dating back to 1955 from a building cornerstone. The university is working with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, the order that founded the Immaculata Seminary and Immaculata High School on the site, to host an opening of the capsule in the fall of 2014.  AU will publicize the event in the community as details become firm.

Time capsule from 1955 recovered at Tenley Campus. Photo courtesy of American University.

Time capsule from 1955 recovered at Tenley Campus. Photo courtesy of American University.

According to Dower, work at the Tenley Campus has generally advanced without issue. While there were some complaints a few weeks ago about truck movement during rush hour around Tenley Circle, Dower said that when American University investigated they determined that the trucks were not related to the Washington College of Law project. The approved work hours for the project are weekdays from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.; however, the university cautions that there may be trucks on the road outside these hours making their way to and from the site.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3E commissioner Matthew Frumin inquired about when access to the sidewalk along Yuma Street would be restored.  Currently there is a security fence that abuts the curb along most of the block, impeding pedestrian traffic. Dower, while acknowledging the impact on the community, explained that the fencing not only controls access to the construction site, but is also necessary for management of groundwater runoff. After the meeting, American University said in a written statement that they “are aware of the request to restore sidewalk access on Yuma Street and will do so as soon as the project allows.”

AU says it is taking a proactive approach to notifying immediate neighbors of the site of construction issues that might impact them, such as pile driving and associated noise. Linda Argo, Assistant Vice President, External Relations & Auxiliary Services, informed the CLC that the university has an email listserv that it uses to reach out to and inform nearby residents. A similar listserv was used to positive effect during the construction of the Katzen Arts Center.

Those interested in the Tenley Campus project can obtain regular updates online, and even view a live webcam of construction.

Rendering courtesy of the American University

Rendering of the future Washington College of Law courtesy of the American University