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CENTERING ON THE Humanities

By R. ALAN Leo, A PHOTO ESSAY

We like to have fun. What can I say? It's a fun building to be in," says Elizabeth L. Randall, project manager for the new humanities center.

The center, scheduled to be completed in the spring of 1997, will house 12 humanities departments in two buildings: Barker Hall (formerly the Freshman Union) and Warren House.

But the project has not been all fun: last fall, conflict arose over the University's plan to divide the Union's Great Hall in half. Preservationists argued that the hall's architectural and historical value made it too important to destroy. In March, alums opposed to the renovation obtained a court order halting the project, and work was stopped for a week.

But when Middlesex County Superior Court ruled that the renovations could proceed, it was back to work.

"I think what the detractors forgot--what they ignored--was that they were putting a lot of people out of work," Randall said.

But when the project resumed, Randall said, all the subcontractors involved (there are at least 21) pulled together to get the project back on schedule.

At any one time the humanities complex holds about 85 workers, of which 25 percent are minorities and, Randall proudly adds, 8 percent are women--a large fraction in the often male-dominated world of construction. And on this project, "It's all women in charge," Randall says.

Randall said one reason for the smooth progress is that the general contactor, Shawmut Design and Construction, as well as many of the subcontractors, have worked with Harvard before on projects, including the Yard dormitory renovations.

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