Construction noise from the ongoing renovation of Old Main is disrupting life for students in GW’s largest residence hall.
More than 10 Thurston Hall residents said in interviews that early-morning construction noises on 20th and F streets – which have been occurring for at least a month – are waking them up at early hours and distracting them from their studies. After receiving reports of construction during quiet hours, officials said they have worked with the construction company to address student complaints.
Students said the construction starts early in the morning at inconsistent times, but usually around 7:30 a.m., when workers from Whiting-Turner construction company begin throwing metal outside of windows and loud trucks drive in and out of the construction site.
Crews have been working since last month to renovate Old Main, a former academic building that will house administrative offices after Rice Hall is vacated later this year to make way for a retail and commercial complex.
“I don’t think that they are waiting to make the noise like they say they are, because it is pretty noisy at 7 a.m.”
Freshman Flynn Steele, a fifth-floor resident, said the construction company previously used a chute to transport metal from the third floor and would also drop it out of windows on the first and second floor. Now they don’t use the chute on the site at all, which creates excessive noise, he said.
He added that because the air conditioning was not functioning until last weekend, he had to keep his window open in his room to cool it down, which also increased the noise echoing through his room from the site.
The University emailed all Thurston Hall residents April 3 stating there would be no “exceptionally noisy” work before 8 a.m., and GW is working with the construction company to install plywood in Old Main windows to reduce noise levels.
Officials also suggested in the email that students should use earplugs, a white noise machine or mobile app, and close their windows to decrease noise levels.
“They have this big truck that is super loud when it backs up, it’s like fire alarm loud,” Steele said. “I don’t think that they are waiting to make the noise like they say they are, because it is pretty noisy at 7 a.m.”
Alicia Knight, the senior associate vice president for operations, said during all construction projects, officials prohibit “exceptionally noisy” work – like jackhammering, concrete demolition, loud outdoor conversations and dumpster filling – before 8 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on Saturdays.
“In response to reporting of a few instances of noisy work occurring before 8 a.m., staff have actively worked with the Whiting-Turner project team to ensure this is corrected and we are hopeful this situation is now addressed,” she said in an email.
A representative from Whiting-Turner declined to comment.
Knight said Old Main construction – which entails reconfiguring floor layouts, elevator and window replacements and upgrades to building utility, safety and technology systems – began March 12 and will continue until late 2018, but demolition activities will be completed before final exams next month. She declined to say how much the project costs.
Knight added that staff members visit the site periodically during early morning hours and update impacted students about the project. Staff will also continue to monitor the site, she said.
Freshman Sophie Orban, a third-floor resident, said she was not satisfied with the suggestions in the email to use earplugs or a white noise machine because these objects do not decrease noise levels, and construction workers have yet to follow any rules that delay excessive sound until 8 a.m.
“I don’t need a white noise machine, I need to not be woken up,” Orban said. “Friday morning, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. when they started working. They were like, ‘No exceptionally loud work before 8 a.m.,’ but this was exceptionally loud.”
“I don’t need a white noise machine, I need to not be woken up.”
Fifth-floor freshman resident Precious Smith said she is concerned about the noise levels leading up to finals week, which could disrupt her studying.
“I don’t understand why they can’t do it over the summer when nobody is here,” Smith said. “It’s enough when my roommates are coming in at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. over the weekend, but this is like, I have to be up for school.”
This article appeared in the April 19, 2018 issue of the Hatchet.