Stagnant construction frustrates students

Comparison photos of the chapels construction at the beginning of the fall 2022 semester and the spring 2023 semester. There is no visible change other than grass growing over the construction site.

Ava Acharya

Two photos from the construction of The Chapel of St. Ignatius and Gayle and Tom Benson Jesuit Center are compared side by side. The photos were taken at beginning of the Fall semester (top left) and Spring semester (bottom right) and demonstrate the lack of progress that has been made.

Maleigh Crespo, Design Chief

Since the summer of 2022, Loyola students have had a view of tarp-covered fences in the heart of their campus.

The construction of the Chapel of St. Ignatius and Gayle and Tom Benson Jesuit Center began before students arrived on campus for the fall 2022 semester.

Phase one of the project was pile driving, which the university wanted to complete before students arrived on campus to minimize disruption, according to Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, Carol Markowitz.

However, no progress has been made since phase one was completed, other than the addition of hanging artwork by Associate Director of the School of Communication & Design, Daniela Marx, who said she made eight banners to “add visual calmness” to the community’s surroundings.

The banners were paid for by Sheryl Kennedy Haydel, director of the school of communication and design.

Design sophomore, Miles Ainsworth, said he has to walk around the barricaded construction site every day to attend his design classes in Monroe Hall.

“I think that it is ridiculous that it’s been roped off for so long and no construction has happened,” Ainsworth said.

After the initial pile driving, minimal construction was to continue until the anticipated completion date of fall 2023, according to an email from the Rev. Justin Daffron, S.J., the interim university president. The construction was to take place Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of a few Saturdays, he said.

Despite the initial plan, construction was halted in the middle of the 2022 fall semester due to the cost of construction materials, Markowitz said.

“We took some time to take a close look at our plans to ensure that we can keep the project within our allotted budget,” Markowitz said.

The project, which was fully funded by the Benson family, has raised student concerns since the announcement of its construction.

“They shouldn’t have put the fence up until they were actually going to build it and not just have it sit there with a pile of dirt for two months,” Ainsworth said.

Markowitz said that the second phase of construction is set to resume in the next two months.

The pause in construction has only added to students’ issues with the project, and many of them feel that the university lacks consideration for its students with the building of the chapel.

“If the entire campus is against this building, then why are you building it?” Ainsworth said.

Patricia Murret, Loyola’s associate director of public affairs told The Maroon last semester that the university wants a campus that speaks faith to a new generation, not only with words, but with structures and spaces.

Earlier in the school year, Tom Ryan, interim vice president for mission and identity, compared the new Chapel construction to the construction which previously occurred to build Monroe Hall.

“It was messy and inconvenient. But for me, looking at Monroe Hall now, what a gift that is,” Ryan said.

Loyola’s administration was unable to respond to questions regarding student concerns about the construction. However, they plan to release a statement in the coming weeks.

This is a developing story. Follow The Maroon for updates.