Masonry work at Macdonald-Stewart Library Building (Schulich Library of Science and Engineering) & FAQs

News

Published: 28Nov2014

Originally published: September 10, 2014

Please scroll down for FAQs.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

From Robert Couvrette, Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) and Colleen Cook, Trenholme Dean of Libraries

We would like to advise you that work involving an in-depth investigation of and some repairs to the masonry walls of the Macdonald-Stewart Library Building, which houses the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering, will begin on Monday, September 15.

This work will result in some disruption and noise for Library users between now and December, when the project is scheduled to be completed. It will mean shifting some materials and adjusting study spaces. The Library will remain open for the duration of the project and we anticipate maintaining the same number of study seats.

During the recent roof replacement, deterioration in the 120-year-old building’s exterior stone wall was observed, prompting McGill in early 2014 to commission an investigation into the state of the building. The subsequent report, from an outside firm of architects and a structural engineer, revealed that the deterioration of the stone structure was more advanced than previously known and that McGill must move quickly to prevent further deterioration, especially avoiding the freeze-thaw cycle in the winter that leads to the accelerated degradation of old stone work.

Construction crews will erect interior walls in some places on all floors to create a space between the building’s interior and its exterior walls to facilitate the masonry investigation and expedite any immediate repairs required. Scaffolding will also be erected around the building and we ask that everyone respect security personnel who will direct pedestrian traffic in the vicinity of the building.

We will attempt to minimize the disruptive effects of the work, but there will definitely be more noise than normal, especially during the mornings. We apologize for the inconvenience this will cause and we will work with staff, students and faculty to find solutions to any problems as they arise.

Please see the FAQs below or contact //reno [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca">reno [dot] library [at] mcgill [dot] ca with questions.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why must this work be done now?

    Facilities received a report commissioned earlier this year, which indicates that some steps needs to be taken before this winter sets in to avoid further deterioration.
     
  2. How serious is it?

    It is fairly serious but not dangerous. Necessary steps are being taken to make sure it won’t become dangerous. Stone deteriorates in an accelerated way. The more water infiltrates cracks in the stone and freezes in the winter, the larger those cracks become. It’s a spiraling cycle. The larger the cracks become, the more water infiltrates. McGill has had considerable experience with this issue on the downtown campus. 37 of our buildings were built before 1900. The Macdonald-Stewart Building that currently houses the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering was built in 1893.
     
  3. How will this affect Library users (i.e. students, faculty, staff)?

    Some study spaces will be relocated within the building and some rarely used materials will be shifted within the branch. Some low-use bound journals will be retrievable from our Currie Gym storage facility. Total number of study spaces in the library should be maintained. During this period there will be noise most mornings. Interior walls will be erected to seal off work areas and reduce dust and/or cold. Temporary walls should be in place on all floors by mid to late September. The work is expected to be completed sometime in December.
     
  4. What materials are you putting in storage?

    Bound journals, for the most part, which will still be available if requested.
     
  5. What if the engineers and architects determine, once they start the work, that things are worse than they thought?

    If at any point there is an indication that part of the building does not meet McGill’s very strict safety standards, the area will be closed off immediately. That would extend to the entire building, if the situation were to call for it.
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