Renovations Aim to Repair, Reinforce BHSEC Building

by Grace Wan, ‘18

Last year, BHSEC students were surprised when scaffolding one day appeared near the entrance of the school. On the first day of Writing and Thinking, instructors and students alike took notice of the colored plastic lining covering the windows of their classrooms. In the days to come, word got around that the third floor bathrooms were now significantly nicer than the ones on other floors.

In recent years, various renovations have caught the attention of the student body. Despite their obvious presence, their purpose has been more obscure.

A bulk of the construction has been work on the building’s foundation, attempting to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. The 2012 storm had washed out some of the soil under the building, destabilizing the school and causing one end to sink farther into the ground than the other. Cracks began to form in areas where the problem was particularly prominent. Some of the damage was fixed immediately, but the larger problems required a more significant overhaul. The concrete floor beneath the cafeteria was reinforced to help reverse the damage. Because the procedure required accessing the foundation of the cafeteria and was thus a large undertaking, the school building was closed during the summer and faculty members were relocated to Stuyvesant High School. New piping has also been added in accordance to a new system that is being widely adopted across schools.

Workers have completed more visible renovations as well. A wall in the stairwell closest to the Student Activities Center has been repaired after an accident shattered one of the panes last year. The third-floor bathrooms have been given new tiling and hand dryers, and the rest of the bathrooms will receive similar treatment in due time. The unexpected plumbing issue during Writing and Thinking was indirectly related to this construction. The pipes were dry, and once water began to flow through them again, debris rolled off and disrupted the system. Students walking from the cafeteria to the gym may also notice a change in the ramp connecting the two locations, a result of the ramp being torn down and rebuilt. A sizable number of lockers have also been removed because the locations of the lockers, including outside of the first floor gymnasium, were deemed a fire hazard. Ninth graders will continue having their own individual lockers, though students in higher grades are encouraged to share with their peers, should they choose to request one in the first place.

The infamous scaffolding will remain for some time. Its purpose is to help waterproof the school, lest another natural disaster strikes. A portion of the yard has been blocked off to store materials for construction.

In the future, the plastic covering classrooms’ windows will be replaced by new shades. Interior work has mostly been completed, though workers are still renovating the building during after school hours. The exterior work – namely, the scaffolding – is slated to continue through January, and currently uncompleted projects – such as the implementation of security cameras – will continue into the spring semester.

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