Building up Biola

The North Hall construction crew shares their experience with working on the Biola campus.


A construction worker measures the distance from the floor to the ceiling on the third floor of North Hall. | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

Jenna Schmidt, Writer

A construction worker measures the distance from the floor to the ceiling on the third floor of North Hall. See the full photo gallery here. | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES


Between the sound walls and dorm discounts, student life on upper campus has undergone quite a few changes in the last couple of years as first the Alpha parking garage and now North Hall were both added to the space.

However, through all the residence hall hubbub, the construction continues at a good pace, because of the dedicated and hardworking construction employees of Millie and Severson, Inc. Upper campus residents have all at one point passed by a laborer directing traffic by the Biola entrance, or have met a group of construction employees arriving to the site early on weekday mornings. Through triple-digit-degree heat, early mornings and tricky traffic control, the laborers at the North Hall construction site have worked through some difficult situations in order to bring the blueprints for Biola’s new dorm to reality.

“Campuses are always a challenge, because number one, you have all the students, and all of their activities,” said Millie and Severson superintendent Harry Hill. “It’s definitely a challenge.”

Hill said he appreciates working on Biola’s campus due to past construction projects he has worked on for the campus with Millie and Severson, Inc. In 2001, they were involved with the construction of the Biola library, as well as the Talbot East theology building and Horton Hall in later years. In addition to working on Biola buildings, Millie and Severson, Inc. has worked on projects on other campuses such as Pepperdine and Claremont College.  

“All campuses are challenging, but I think the nice thing about college campuses is that there always seems to be a positive outlook, and that’s what I enjoy about it,” Hill said. “And it’s more useful. The whole thing is more positive when you’re here.”


North Hall particularly presents a challenging atmosphere for construction employees. Not only does the close proximity to the upper campus entrance make traffic control more difficult, but the compact space available to build in as well as the closeness to inhabited residence halls have both caused some delays in the construction. However, the construction of the sound wall seems to have provided a good solution for both the dorm residents and the construction employees.

“The sound wall was a challenge, but that was more so because of all the added restrictions that the county put on it. So once we got all that ironed out, it was at least a four week delay,” Hill said. “But the sound wall I think has been positive. It separates the construction well from the dorms.”

As for the compact space in which North Hall is being built, the construction teams find that the additional floors added to the height of the new dorm help in streamlining the work site. However, traffic control has still presented a problem throughout the dorm’s construction.

“We really can only come in and out. We don’t have the opportunity to circle around,” Hill said, referring to the compact building space and the placement of the construction directly next to Sigma. “We’re always doing traffic control.”

Despite the few problems that they have come in contact with throughout the building process, the construction employees keep pushing through the work day by day. At the moment, Hill says that the construction is actually ahead of the master schedule. The managing team for the work site attempts to catch any snags in the building process as early as possible.

“Once you get it in a rhythm, you have everybody in that rhythm,” Hill said. “We do 3-D imaging to try and see where conflicts will be, and we try to catch those ahead of time, but a lot of those things are adjusted as you go. An architect can’t see everything as they’re drawing it out.”

Despite the problematic traffic issues, triple-degree heat and delays with the sound walls, the Millie and Severson, Inc. workers maneuver many tricky situations to ensure that the new residence hall will be well-constructed for the next academic year. The weekly meetings with the foremen prepare each team of workers, whether they are engineers, electricians or carpenters, for the upcoming weeks. This preparation keeps the construction of North Hall moving forward efficiently.

“When I have the foremen come to the trailer, when you have a picture in front of you, it’s like the saying, it’s worth more than a thousand words,” Hill said. “It’s like a schedule they can see in their heads. When you have everybody talk together you can really get a lot more done.”

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