Humanities to get facelift, new name over summer

Kelsey Sprout

While students are celebrating their new-found summer freedom, construction crews will be hard at work in the Humanities Building giving it a long overdue facelift.

Starting the week after commencement, construction will begin on both the music and classroom sides of the building in what will amount to be almost a complete overhaul. The visual arts hallway will remain the same.

The multi-phase project first began with painting and refurbishing of classrooms in the fall of 2016. It continued with the construction of Hamre Hall completed at the start of the academic year.

The $3 million project will include new furniture, refinished doors and a complete renovation of all bathrooms. The costliest part of the remodel will be the elevator which will be installed in the music hallway.        

Jim Bies, advisor to the university and former dean of students, said that all funding for the project is coming from gifts already received or currently being raised. Student fees are not contributing to the cost of the renovations.

The elevator, which will go from the first floor down to the basement where instrument practice rooms are located, was not originally part of the blueprints. The elevator was added once it became clear the music department would not receive accreditation until it became compliant with the American Disabilities Act. Currently, the only way to get to the practice rooms is down two flights of stairs.

Lisa Grevlos, chair of the music department, said that she was not aware of any past instances of students not gaining access to practice or lesson rooms due to mobility issues, but added that the music department wants to be as open and accessible as possible.

The choir room and band room will also receive major updates, including acoustics improvements similar to those featured in Hamre Hall.

Lisa Grevlos said she is excited to work with Chase Kramer, the lead architect both for Hamre Hall and the Humanities renovations, to mimic some of the updates made in Hamre Hall in other music rooms.

“We’re very grateful,” Grevlos said. “These renovations are very important and needed not just for beauty; I think they will benefit both the current and prospective students as well as the faculty.”

The music department has been able to use the new recital hall as a recruitment tool for students as well as performers.

“I think the space speaks for itself, it has become a very popular and well sought-out space,” Grevlos said.

According to Bies, this is the first time that the Humanities Building will receive any major updates since its initial construction in 1971.

The project will also officially give the building a new name, the Fryxell Humanities Center.

The university hopes to have construction completely finished before the 2019 fall semester. Jeffrey Miller, chair of humanities division, said he would not be surprised if there is still work to be done come next fall.

Despite concerns, Bies is optimistic that the project will be completed as scheduled and wants to assure students and faculty that accommodations are being made to ensure the least amount of disruption possible.

Faculty, administration and Kramer are working together to complete the construction so that no area of the building is completely off limits or give summer classes alternate locations.

Accommodations will be important for the music faculty as Grevlos estimates their annual music camp will have 85 to 100 prospective students on campus during the summer.

Despite all the headaches that come with construction and transition, faculty involved in the project are looking forward to having the finished product.

“In the end, it’s going to look a lot different and a lot better than it does now,” Miller said.

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