Heat evades Opus and other parts of McEwen

By Bonnie Wertheim ’14

When you’re looking for relief from Clinton’s bitter, mid-February cold, there’s nothing like an Opus 1 beverage to warm you up.  Americano? ’Snow problem! But if you’re hoping to stay warm in Opus once you’ve finished your drink, good luck.

Owners Sarah Goldstein and Larry Bender, as well as their team of student employees, have been dealing with complaints about the significantly lower than average temperatures inside Opus’s seating area over the past month. The thing is, though, how hot or cold it feels in Opus these days is completely out of their control.

“The past summer, we replaced the heating elements and modified the duct work that supplies heated air along [Opus’s] window curtain wall,” Steve Bellona of Physical Plant explained. “These elements and the transformer supporting them [have] been replaced once and failed again in the past month.”

“[The new heating system] wasn’t really tested until the cold weather came about three or four weeks ago,” said Bender.

“And when it hit below zero, it was really noticeably not up to its capacity.”

Opus Barista Kina Viola ’14 said that she was “standing in front of the oven during her entire shift because she was cold,” a technique that Bender referred to as a kind of “built-in central heating system.”

The lack of heat is a problem that affects not only Opus employees and patrons but also everyone who spends time in any part of McEwen Hall. While students and faculty eat in the dining hall, the lack of heat might be less noticeable for the same reasons that the kitchen portion of Opus feels some relief from the cold—stoves and ovens are always fired up. However, in rooms like the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) office, where employees spend most of their time working at desks, the temperatures can interfere with the performance of everyday tasks.

The same goes for students who enjoy studying and socializing while sinking into a comfy Opus armchair.

“Clearly people are still doing work in here,” said Frankie Caracciolo ’13, another Opus barista. “But it’s just cold enough that it’s uncomfortable and distracting.”

“We are currently working with the design engineer and the contractor to develop a solution to this issue,” Bellona said.

For the love of the Darkside, let’s hope that solution comes soon.


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