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hile most Middlesex students and
faculty were able to kick back
and relax this past summer,
MCC's Facilities Management
and Information Technology departments
tackled a variety of heavy-duty assignments,
including two very ambitious building
renovation projects.
On the Lowell campus, three new
classrooms, plus office space, were created on
the third and fourth floors in the historic
Pollard Building. On the Bedford campus,
the interior of the college library was given a
floor-to-ceiling redecoration and technology
upgrade. Both projects began in June and
were completed by early September,
according to Matthew Sepe, MCC's Dean of
"We work year 'round to maintain the
college, but we do a lot of heavy
maintenance during the summer when there
are less people on campus," explained Sepe.
"So, these two jobs were added to our list of
regular summer maintenance and renovation
As required by state law, most of the
construction work required a study & design
phase to develop the bid specifications,
which in turn required advertising and
awarding of the construction contracts,
explained Jay Linnehan, MCC's Executive
Vice President. That process required a lot of
work from the Facilities Department and
then significant supervision of both projects
which also included considerable Facilities
Department labor, he said.
"To do what we did, in the amount of time
we had with such tight deadlines was
amazing," said Linnehan.
The Pollard Building project was a full
renovation that required following state
construction guidelines, he explained. It
began in the fall of 2010, but construction
didn't begin until mid-June.
And, although the Bedford Campus Library
renovation was basically "cosmetic" new
paint, carpet, lighting, furniture and
computers the project was far from simple,
said Linnehan. It required moving the entire
library out (and relocating it to a temporary
location for the summer), completing the
work, and putting it all back together again.
Starting in June, the library was totally
refurbished and dedicated in memory of
Middlesex founding president, the late Dr.
James E. Houlihan Jr., on Sept. 6, MCC's
Opening Day.
Joe Patuto, MCC's Director of Technology
Support Services, was overall project
manager for the Pollard Building. He was
assisted by Steve Hatch, Facilities
Management's Director of Operations, who
served as Pollard project director for his
department. John Belanger, Assistant
Director of Facilities Management, was
project manager for the library renovation.
Both projects presented unique challenges.
Built in 1891, the Pollard Building is located
on Middle Street, across from MCC's Health
Science & Technology Center. It is owned
by Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter
School, which occupies the first two floors.
MCC leases floors three and four.
"One unforeseen issue we uncovered at the
Pollard is that there had been several fires in
the building sometime in the past," said
Patuto. "We worked with structural
engineers to study and replace several
charred beams during our construction
In addition to removing walls, reconfiguring
the space, and making it more accessible for
the handicapped, all the Pollard Building's
electrical, heating and air-conditioning
systems had to be upgraded, added Sepe.
"The heating and ventilation were also
challenging at the Pollard," Sepe explained.
"Naturally, we wanted to preserve the
historical feel of the building. That meant
we couldn't put one big HVAC unit on the
roof because it would show. So, we installed
small HVAC systems on each floor."
Renovating the Bedford Campus Library
involved much more "modern" architectural
challenges. Originally built in the early
1960s as a field house when the campus
belonged to the Marist Brothers Preparatory
Seminary, the library has a very high,
geodesic-dome roof.
"The unusual shape of that building was the
challenge with the library especially when
it came to painting and lighting," said Sepe.
"Those hanging, crisscrossed light fixtures
look good, but they also had to throw
enough light in the area."
Conceived by interior designer Susan
Adams, who also designed the interiors of
MCC's City and Federal buildings, the
Bedford Campus Library is now a vision in
rich chocolate browns and soft blues. "That
library hadn't been touched in 20 years,"
explained Sepe. "We wanted the redesign to
result in a much more modern, welcoming
feeling. Susan did a wonderful job."
Linnehan is also pleased with the final
results. "I'm ecstatic," he said. "We now have
three badly needed, very versatile new
classrooms on the Lowell campus. And we
have a beautiful Bedford Campus Library
named for Dr. Houlihan," said Linnehan.
Carole Cowan, MCC's third president, loved
the idea of dedicating the library in honor of
the college's first president on Opening Day
2011. The dedication ceremony served as
the final event in the college's year-long
40th anniversary celebration.
"Holding the dedication on Opening Day
was spectacular," said Linnehan. "I know the
Houlihan family was really surprised that
hundreds of people showed up to remember
and honor their father."
Kathy Register
Bedford Campus Library renovation team (front row, left to right): Eddie Woods, Mike Ryan, James Colorusso and Sean Maher;
(back row, left to right): Thomas Asiamah, Moe Camire, John Tanguay, Steve Hatch, Eric Wendling, John Belanger, Tony Marcello,
Bob Bickford, Bruce Giannetta and Matt Sepe.