The SHED construction makes progress, surmounts challenges

Elizabeth Lamark

The Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED) will let the sunlight in from all directions.

The Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED) will look like nothing else on the RIT campus when construction ends next year. Glass dominates the structure, with exterior walls forming curves and irregular shapes creating dynamic surfaces and tricky assembly.

The SHED is like an intricate glass puzzle, and Mark Williams, principal project manager in RIT’s facilities Management Services, is a problem solver.

“There are very complicated areas where different planes of glass intersect each other,” he said. “Curves come off the bridge and the building, and they differ from floor to floor. We’ve got an offset from one floor to the next floor, as well as compound curves intersecting each other.”

The project has moved past challenges of mounting glass panels on the structural spines that jut from the building like porcupine quills, Williams said. This new phase of construction will see the last of the glass installed on the atrium and the dance studio at the southeast corner, and completion of the exterior.

The SHED’s emphasis on glass continues inside the building, with nearly two-thirds of the interior walls made of glass.

“There is a significant amount of interior glass,” Williams said. “When you walk around inside the facility, you can see into most every space. It will create a new kind of community at RIT.”

The classrooms on the upper floors of the SHED are also taking shape. Drywall finishers work their way down from the fourth to the first floor, and a painting crew follows behind them.

The Wallace Library renovation has also made progress, and the third- and fourth-floor classrooms in the building are already furnished. The Cary Graphic Arts Collection and RIT Archives have moved into their new homes on the second and third floors, respectively, on the east side of the building adjoining the SHED. Renovations have started on the other side of the second floor where the special collections were temporarily housed.

Read more

Construction on the Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED) involves hundreds of people and thousands of details, and Mark Williams, RIT principal for construction management, keeps track of it all. Read a Q&A with Williams.

The finishing stages of the first floor of Wallace are underway, Williams said. The redesigned space and new location of the circulation desk will improve the traffic flow into the library and the SHED.

Supply chain disruptions throughout the SHED construction have caused Williams headaches, but none so much as the delay of the primary power gear designed with “smart” breakers. The global semiconductor shortage didn’t deter Williams, who found a temporary solution that will keep the SHED on schedule to open in fall 2023.

He solved the problem by sourcing a simple version of the electrical gear, without computer chips, that will last for about six months. The equipment will run 90 percent of the building and generate the power needed to test the mechanical systems and building controls, and to install, run, and test the elevators, Williams said.

The temporary system will keep the project on track until the permanent electrical gear arrives in April. Williams estimates the construction job costs $200,000 a day, and doing nothing until the primary power equipment is installed isn’t an option.

“We have to be extremely efficient, and we can’t accommodate downtime,” Williams said. “We can’t afford not to have the project keep running.”

About the SHED

The Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED) will showcase technology, the arts, and design at RIT in one building that stretches from Wallace Library to Monroe Hall. The creative hub will include the Brooks H. Bower Maker Showcase, the Sklarsky Glass Box Theater, and music and dance studios. The SHED’s focus on hands-on learning extends to the 27 new classrooms—five extra-large learning spaces in the SHED designed for active learning and 22 regular-sized flexible classrooms in the renovated Wallace Library. The SHED is on track to open in fall 2023.

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